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[This poem was a semifinalist for the 1997 Emily Dickinson Award.]

 

 

Bra

 

What a good fit!  But the label says Honduras:

Alas, I am Union forever, yes, both breasts

and the heart between them committed to U.S. labor.

 

But such a splendid fit!  And the label tells me

the woman who made it, bronze as the breasts now in it,

speaks the language I dream in; I count in Spanish

 

the pesos she made stitching this breast-divider:

will they go for her son's tuition, her daughter's wedding?

The thought is a lovely fit, but oh, the label!

 

And oh, those pesos that may be pennies, and hard-earned.

Was it son or daughter who made this, unschooled, unwedded?

How old?  Fourteen?  Ten?  That fear is a tight fit.

 

If only the heart could be worn like the breast, divided,

nosing in two directions for news of the wide world,

sniffing here and there for justice, for mercy.

 

How burdened every choice is with politics, guilt,

expensive with duty, heavy as breasts in need of

this perfect fit whose label says Honduras.

 

                                                      Rhina P. Espaillat

 

 

From Where Horizons Go, 1998, New Odyssey Press; first
published in E, the prize-winners' anthology (see note above).
Rreprinted by permission of the author.


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