Cubism by Deborah Edler Brown

you make me want to hold my breasts
and keep them where they belong.
What is this fury
and fascination with women?
Multiplying and dividing
lives, loves, lines and geometry,
separating east breast from west,
nose from mouth,
like households:
one here with a wife
here, with a lover and child,
moving together
but never whole.
I weep for your women,
hung in oil and fragmented.
I hold my breasts in this bustling gallery
look at image after image
with arms wrapped tightly around me
before body parts fall off in despair.

True story. I was walking through the Picasso exhibit in Los Angeles and realized that I had my arms wrapped around my breasts, as if to keep them where they belong. I made a joke about it, then pulled out my notebook to record the line. The whole poem spilled out.

“Cubism” was first published in Kalliope, where it won the 2005 Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Prize, and then again for Moontide’s Press Poet of the Month in September 2010.

Deborah Edler Brown (not pictured) was born in Brazil and raised in Pittsburgh. She was the 2005 winner of the Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Prize, and her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart. She loves to dance…in body, imagination, and in words. Links to her work and performances can be found at

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