27 September, 2011

The Bird Is Singing

We are edging ever closer to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I've been thinking a lot about scars lately - usually my own, which are significant but mostly hidden.

I cannot, however, think about scars without thinking of Deena Metzger who describes herself as "a poet, novelist, essayist, storyteller, teacher, healer and medicine woman who has taught and counseled ... [and] developed therapies (Healing Stories) which creatively address life threatening diseases, spiritual and emotional crises ... ."

She is a truly remarkable woman, and this verse resulted from her tattooed effort to deal with one consequence of her battle with breast cancer.
I am no longer afraid of mirrors where I see the sign of the amazon,
          the one who shoots arrows.
There was a fine red line across my chest where a knife entered,
          but now a branch winds about the scar
          and travels from arm to heart.
Green leaves cover the branch, grapes hang there and a bird appears.
What grows in me now is vital and does not cause me harm.
          I think the bird is singing.
I have relinquished some of the scars.
I have designed my chest with the care
          given to an illuminated manuscript.
I am no longer ashamed to make love. Love is a battle I can win.
I have the body of a warrior who does not kill or wound.
On the book of my body, I have permanently inscribed a tree.

Deena Metzger, 1982     

Photograph by Hella Hammid