Still Life with Nursing Bra

By Keetje Kuipers

Fall open, unfold me. Hook and eye
undone with one hand, fingers that know
their way now in the dark. You contain
me: underwire circling my breasts in
half-bangle like the copper bracelets
lemniscating wrists of women who’ve
never worn bras, never held back
their multitudes. You of the hidden
crab-apple bruise yellowing on my
chest. You of her ecstasy, eyes rolled
back in her head, hands in her sweat-
damp hair. You: milk that rivers down my
skin, shimmering of hunger, the want
of a wet mouth. Nursing bra—black, nude,
electric orange and lace-trimmed, tucked in
the back of the drawer or hung dangling
from a doorknob—I once fumbled
with you, stale of the dentist’s lobby
cut by a thin mewling that made us all
shiver, the waiting room’s terrified
ripple as I struggled with the clasp
that kept me from spilling open. Instead,
the leaking through, a sticky flower
blooming down my chest, until I wrenched
you free, flapping and fearless, one
wing taking flight from my breast.


Directed by Matthew Thompson.

Keetje Kuipers, “Still Life With Nursing Bra” from All its Charms. Copyright © 2019 by Keetje Kuipers. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., All rights reserved.