Reading the Body

Publisher: Mammoth Publications , Chapbook: 28 pages 0-9761773-090000 . Out of print, but many of these poems will be reprinted in How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems, due out in early 2020. Please sign up for Caryn's Mailchimp (see above) to get the latest news.

This chapbook is a collection of poetry about breast cancer and finding ways to reinhabit the body. Come on a journey from diagnosis through chemotherapy and surgeries to healing. These poems speak to what it is to be a body facing issues of mortality as well as exploring what it means to be a woman, mother, and being throughout extensive treatment and deep healing. Written to accompany a collaborative performance between the Prairie Wind Dancers, Kelley Hunt, and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, this book has gone on to become a favorite of many facing breast cancer and the people who love them.

Table of Contents

Discovering Fire


Morning Glory


The Landscape of the Body

Counting the Days



What Do You Want to Remember?



Your Life is Your Life

I Want To Tell You How Beautiful You Are

Reading the Body

Playing the Cello


Excerpt: "Lilac"

The day after they cut my breasts off,
just home from the hospital, not even
napping or talking on the phone yet,
that day, I walked on my own two legs
down the dirt road over the slope
of loose rocks, cradling, as I walked,
the broken body, the large orange handled
clippers, the big wind holding me,
the man I loved behind me getting ready
to start his car to come get me,
that day beginning the healing
from all of it – unslashed
from the expectation of what knife or infusion
comes next

was the day I made my way to my mother-in-law’s
old-fashioned dark purple lilac, and reached against
the tightness of gauze and paper tape, against
the odd sensation of parts removed and scars
just making themselves, against my sore arms reaching
toward their old strength

to gather and hold,
to cut and cut and cut
all I could fill my arms with,
all the dark purple alive with death and
birth, loss and blossom, and the white ones too.

My arms filling with the explosion of lilac,
my life filling with wind and weight of branches,
all of it against, upon, my open chest,
all of it ready to be carried
into the next life
that starts right now.