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by V. Jane Schneeloch

On a metal tray
a piece of my breast
lies yellow and misshapen, 
waiting to be examined
by the "dedicated breast pathologist."
Yesterday this piece of me 
fit perfectly in its own place
northwest of my right nipple.
Now it is no longer me
but a tissue sample
to be tested, measured, magnified
and labeled.
This is the third piece of my breast 
sent to pathology,
looking for "good margins."
Miss Hay saw margins as wasteful,
made us squeeze meaning
onto every inch of paper
before we dared ask for more.
She saw no value in creating space
to isolate an idea for examination.
I, like Miss Hay, want to husband my resources.
Three pieces is enough to lose.
I do not want to give up a fourth,
but I do like edges and clear boundaries.  
Margins here are microscopic,
not visible like pencil lines on manila paper,
but as much as possible
I want to know that 
in this tissue sample
there is a safe space
between the me that is left
and the cancer.

Recently retired after teaching English for 35 year, V. Jane Schneeloch has facilitated writing groups for retirees and for incarcerated women. She currently serves as office manager for the Drama Studio in Springfield , Massachusetts , where she edits Backstage, the Studio's newsletter. Her poetry has been published in Equinox, Hello Goodbye, Peregrine, and Poetic Voices Without Borders. She is an annual participant in Relay for Life, for which she has raised over $3,500. Jane lives in Springfield with her devoted Lhasa Apso, Riley.