Michael L. Ruffin


Someone left a message on
the church’s prayer line:

“Pray for my friend; she’s having
a breast autopsy tomorrow.”

My first thought: “What good will that do?”
My second thought: “If it’s dead, why not just cut it off?”

My third thought: “Back in the 1960s, when my mother’s
breasts threatened to kill her, they cut them both off.”

They killed her anyway.

I do not know if my
mother breast-fed me.
But I do know this:
one day when I was sixteen and
she was two weeks from death,
I saw her chest, and

the memory both nourished and starved
me for a very long time.


Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and prose opinions at On the Jericho Road. He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and Praying with Matthew. His poetry has appeared at New Verse News, Rat’s Ass Review, 3 Moon Magazine, and U-Rights Magazine.