top of page

Breastbone Ode by Judith H. Montgomery

published in Cumberland River Review, Issue 7-1, January 2018

Breastbone Ode

by Judith H. Montgomery

Think gladiolus: not the loud flower flaunting its frilled petals: bee-worthy, beguiling. Not

the armful of flagrant blaze, but that interior sword-lily, our hardy armor, pale bone shield

buttressed by clavicle and rib, our tender heart’s defense—manubrium, gladiolus, xiphoid process

Greek and Latin names for handle, body, sword- tip. O valiant breastbone, anchor for our ribs’

bony branches as they lace up the pierced cage that guards us against injury, buffers our so-

vulnerable organ against accident (steering-wheel’s wild lunge, oak branch’s blunt spear, some stop

sign hurled from hurricane or heaven). Let us honor the body’s gladiator, our sturdy buckler

as we cocky ever-adolescents whim and wing from rock to ripple, daring disaster. Praise each

our humble breast-bone, sternum, gladiolus, whatever name we give it—our best defense,

our bulwark, our necessary intercessor.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page