Study Guide

Blessing the Boats - From The Terrible Stories (1996), "lumpectomy eve" Summary & Analysis

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From The Terrible Stories (1996), "lumpectomy eve" Summary

This is a vignette of the night before surgery to remove a lump, perhaps cancerous. Clifton dreams of nursing a baby and that somehow the hunger of the baby turns in on the breast itself and begins to destroy it. She realizes that having the surgery comes from love, keeping herself alive. The last couplet is poignant, where one breast comforts the other all during the long night.

From The Terrible Stories (1996), "lumpectomy eve" Analysis

This poem reveals how women struggle to deal with impending breast surgery, and the nursing imagery carries some irony, because the breast has served in love but then turns "on itself" and can kill the woman. Clifton's line, "love calls you to this knife" reveals that it might be easier not to even do...

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This section contains 188 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Blessing the Boats Study Guide
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