I am an egg.
Small, smooth, speckled, perfect.
If you hold me in your hand you can feel the warmth,
the life inside my fragile shell.
Soon I will be a dove.
You will hear my wings rustle as I fly
from the telephone wire to the roof top where I will
sit and coo to you in the morning fog.
But for now I am an egg.
I sleep softly in the nest,
Woven twigs, moss, lined with feathers…
waiting for the warmth of the mother bird to return
so she can sit and coo to me in the morning fog.
— Margaret Bloom
The story of this poem is bittersweet. I wrote it as part of a writing workshop for women who have been impacted by breast cancer. The writing prompt was to compose a poem from the perspective of an animal or inanimate object.
While I personally have not been diagnosed with breast cancer, I have been impacted in the following way. For many years I was aware, due to my family history, that there was a strong possibility I was a carrier for the BRCA genetic mutation. In 2003, under pressure from a doctor who had been following me for many years, I tested for the mutation. At that time, I was approximately seven months pregnant with my older son. My results for the BRCA genetic mutation came back positive and, given that this mutation confers up to 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer, I decided I would have a double mastectomy as soon as possible. And so, when my son was 9 months old, I had the first in a series of surgeries to reduce my risk.
At the time I had the surgeries (seven years ago), choosing to have a prophylactic double mastectomy (while still nursing a baby) was controversial and I did not get support from some friends & family members. But to me, it felt disrespectful to have the information about the BRCA genetic mutation and not be proactive about preserving my health. Having spent the last seven years receiving and offering support within the breast cancer community, I know women who would have given anything to have had the information I had. I know women who have lost their lives because they did not have the type of information I had. Out of respect for these women, out of love for my husband and my son, out of love for future children I hoped to have, I had the double mastectomy.
I can write and speak about the process of having the double mastectomy (and reconstruction) now, but at the time of the surgeries things were not easy. After each surgery I could not hold or lift my son for at least three weeks and it was hard to feel like a “normal” mother. The writing group in which I participated saved my life and I am very grateful for it.
I am grateful for every participant in that group who shared her story, her poetry, her writing. I am grateful my mother is alive after receiving treatment for breast cancer. I am grateful for the medical technology which can isolate the BRCA familial genetic mutation. I am grateful I had medical insurance which covered the genetic screening, the double mastectomy and reconstruction. I am grateful.
To learn more about BRCA please visit this site.
Margaret Bloom lives with her two sons and husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she is not busy listening to doves coo or laughing with her children at the antics of the birds and squirrels in the garden, you can find her blogging at We Bloom Here.