This story is not about a woman's body. It's about a young composer's disgust and fear when confronted with an authentically sexy woman who had a mastectomy. In my opinion he definitely was not ready for that woman. He was obsessed with the feelings in his body and mind. He didn't even she her. The man didn't even know what a mastectomy was.
He did not understand her body. What seemed to turn him on about her was that she was something new he had never before experienced with his body. She was an older Japanese woman, talented, and comfortable with her body and sexuality. Maybe he thought she was exotic. Maybe he thought she could teach him something unusual about sex or lovemaking.
I suppose she did teach him something new. She used the bowl to tell him he looked good on the surface, but on the inside his energy and sweetness was dried up and dead. It probably took years for him to understand what she was saying.
A Story about the Body
The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she mused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy,” and when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity-like music-withered quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, “I’m sorry I don’t think I could.” He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl-she must have swept the corners of her studio-was full of dead bees.