Mutilated Is the Word

by Ja’net Danielo


that fell from
my mother’s mouth—
blade on the tongue—
after her mastectomy.
When my time came,
I said to the surgeon,
           I’m not ready,
by which I meant
not for the blade
on the tongue
          but the knife
my body would take
to itself, for that final
not in the rain, not
looking me in the eye,
but just a shapeless
voice on the phone:
          This is where
it ends for us.


Ja’net Danielo is the author of The Song of Our Disappearing, a winner of the Paper Nautilus 2020 Debut Series Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Radar Poetry, Mid-American Review, Gulf Stream, Frontier Poetry, and 2River View, among other journals. Originally from Queens, NY, she teaches at Cerritos College and lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband and her dog. You can find her at www.jdanielo.com.


See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Mutilated Is the Word ”?

This poem was written a little over a year after having a bilateral mastectomy on a particularly bad day when I was struggling to accept this new body I find myself inhabiting. I remembered that after my mother had had her mastectomy, she said she felt mutilated. While I feared that I’d share her reaction, ultimately, I did not; instead, I experienced the surreal feeling that my body had broken up with me, swiftly and without explanation. This poem seeks to capture that.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


07/08 • Meg Eden
07/15 • Tim Raymond
07/22 • Mike Itaya
07/29 • Eric Steineger
08/05 • Baylee Less-Eiseman
08/12 • Rae Gourmand
08/19 • Chiwenite Onyekwelu
08/26 • John Arthur
09/02 • TBD
09/09 • TBD
09/16 • TBD
09/23 • TBD
09/30 • TBD