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Also by Antonio Vallone:
My Grandmother's Breasts | Like No Other

My Grandmother's Breasts

While my mother phoned for the ambulance
I stood in the doorway of my grandmother's bedroom
too scared to help her or move.
The last time I saw her alive

my grandmother pulled her blue satin nightgown
over her head with one hand
clutching her chest with the other
repeating my name

asking me to turn my eyes away
in English more broken than ever
the nitroglycerin tablet detonating under her tongue.
Finally I stepped into the hallway and turned around

but not before I glimpsed her
naked from the waist up
the way only my grandfather
doctors and the undertaker did.

Though I could describe her breasts for you
in photographic detail, I won't
not out of embarrassment or shame
but of the privilege and duty I felt then and now.

Printed in the Spring/Summer 2001 issue of CLR

Antonio Vallone

Antonio Vallone is an associate professor of English at Penn State Dubois. He is the publisher of MAMMOTH books and editor of Pennsylvania English. His most recent collection of poetry is titled Golden Carp. He can be reached at

You can find Antonio Vallone on the web at:
—  2 Poems for This Is Not Art
—  Essay for This Is Not Art
—  Amazon
—  Batting Order

Published by Clackamas Literary Review, in print and on the web at,, and
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