Jenny Lewis

After the Mastectomy

for Terry

When my waking mind became rimed solid
it only allowed me memories in dreams

like when I dreamed I was trying on new clothes
in an enclosed cubicle in a high street shop

and someone parted the cubicle curtain – the shock!
How fast and inexpertly I tried to cover myself.

How fast the relief when I saw it was you,
no threat, but only a sense of comfort.

I woke up knowing the threat of waking up
is to be once more connected to the truth.

The truth is you have died and I feel pain again.
It jolts like a horse with a hot-headed rider.

The weight inside me feels hot-headed
although it is grievous hard and rimed solid.


Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright and translator who teaches poetry at Oxford University. Her new version of the Gilgamesh epic, Gilgamesh Retold (Carcanet, 2018), was a New Statesman Book of the Year and Carcanet’s first audiobook.