Kirsten E. Ogden

Motherís breasts are now darkened

moons. On the cover of her book an Ama diver

smiles, naked, rope tied at the waist, bikini knotted

at fleshy hips.

A doctor plucked my motherís breasts

and left empty pockets.

Knives sliced open black-lipped Japanese

Akoyas to steal the pearls. 90 to 120 times per day,

Ama Divers filled lungs with 3 minutes of breath,

swam down 22 meters, suffered the bends,

vomited days after oysters were cracked,

shells fanned, meat pressed

flat with fingertips. My mother

wants to wear princess strands looped

atop her skin and breasts. The pearls:

halos of blistering nacre.

Kirsten E. Ogden grew up in Honolulu, Baton Rouge, and San Francisco. Her poems, essays, and stories have been published or are forthcoming inLouisiana Literature, Phoebe, Slipstream, Avatar Review, Fringe, and Teaching Tolerance. A Peter Taylor Fellow of The Kenyon Review and occasional blogger for the California Poets in the Schools, Kirsten writes and performs in Los Angeles. Find her on the web at .

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