Beth Everest – silent sister: the mastectomy poems

Beth Everest – silent sister: the mastectomy poems

More than a narrative of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, silent sister: the mastectomy poems bears witness to social and psychological impacts, for better or worse, of the altered body and mind. You enter the cave, and in it are fragments of truth, recollection, dream, hallucination and birds. You laugh. You cry. You inspire. And you breathe.

Beth Everest author photoBeth Everest is a Calgary based writer whose poetry and fiction have been published in journals across the country. Her new book, silent sister: the mastectomy poems, forthcoming from Frontenac House (2016), is her second book of poetry.

Beth has won numerous awards for her work and her teaching. Most recently, her piece “this poem is about desire” was awarded the silver medal at the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Awards (2014), and “hanging clothes” won second place in the 2013 Freefall Fiction Contest (judged by Patrick Lane).

Beth holds a Doctorate in Education (University of Calgary), a Master of Arts Degree (University of Windsor, where she had the notable honour of studying with the great story-tellers W.O. Mitchell and Alistair MacLeod), a Bachelor of Education Teaching Certificate (University of Calgary), and Bachelor of Arts Degree (University of Alberta).

Currently, Beth is an Associate Professor in the Department of English,
Languages and Cultures at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Creative Writing (fiction).


i phone. let my sisters
know that Dr. Kanashiro tells me
they are now at risk, in that strange
mathematics by which
my illness has made them more

yes, yes, one sister says.
i understand. and the other, i’ll book a mammogram
and the third, well, my friend had a
mastectomy, and she’s just fine.

my neighbour visits. do you
want to see, i say. do you
want to show me? yes,
yes i do. i want to show you,
i want to scream naked
thru the streets and run and run
and run, one breast

then they’ll see,
won’t they then they’ll see


cancer grows like a nest, the crows
on the top of the lamp post, their funny
dance from foot to foot, and throaty burble,
the clicking from under a tongue.
feathers alight and the bird returns with mud,
twigs, feathers, a silver ribbon. it’s the glittery

in the morning, looking for eggs
hidden by my father while we are at
easter mass. how many can we find?
one two three. where’s mine?
and the others? look. it’s the whiskey
jack who took them. or the magpies.
they take the robin eggs too, suck
the filling out, like candy.

it’s spring. rain on the first

it’s spring. i’m waiting. listen
it’s the rain. i hear it. i know
it’s the rain.