The Biopsy

Jones, Alice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Feb-11-1997


The poet undergoes a breast biopsy under local anesthesia: "I had thought my skin was a permanent seal. / Now I watch this layer of myself / . . . sprout red flowers . . . . " She observes the (male) surgeon closely, imagines her tissue on its journey to the pathology laboratory, and listens carefully to the surgeon's first words: "this man / who went beyond my skin / as no one else has . . . / as he made me for the first time, his."


A precisely-imagined and effective poem that evokes the tension between control and lack of control, power and powerlessness, separation and connection in the physician's experience of illness.

Primary Source

The Knot


Alice James

Place Published

Cambridge, Mass.