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Mammogram FREE TO VIEW

Terry Cox-Joseph
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Editor’s Note: According to the poet, “‘Mammogram’ was written during a vacation in Luxembourg and Amsterdam, just after I was diagnosed with intraductal cribriform. The Luxembourg national independence holiday was celebrated with fireworks. As the silver remnant sparks from an arching cone died and cascaded downward, I couldn’t help but compare them to my radiograph. In fact, as a visual artist, I couldn’t help but see cribriform in everything.”

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Chest. 2012;142(4):1070. doi:10.1378/chest.11-2847
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Ever since that day I posed from waist up
the image follows me like a child with a marker
trailing lines across walls
naked, first time
I glow on lightbox after lightbox
beneath radiologists’ gazes,
parse pathology reports—
moderately differentiated,
partly cloudy sky.
After summer’s rain leaves soft mists
rising from the lawn like steam
the image rises beneath my feet
colonies of twisted angleworms
oozing between blades of grass
absorbing oxygen through their flesh.
My screensaver is an unintended splash
of intraductal cribriform, coalescing left, center, right
rapid sequence Day-Glo lime on black.
I see calcium deposits in flocks of starlings
smattering the sky—
see how they disperse, regroup!
I prefer to see my cancer above, shout
to primed heavens, lift my chin, cheer
fireworks in the night, pupils constricted
exuberant burst fading to black
after-image etched in permanence.




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