Farrow

- 1971-

Full in the fat wallow of me,
                     Superfluity
           Even to the marrow—

Blood plumping along in a red swell
                     Of venules
           Blushing my most unabashed

Skinpatches: nosetip, earlobe, wristshallow.  O
                      This mother
            Is a crush of too-muchness,

A malady of my baffled self awash.
                      Accomplished
            Finally the days, will I find

My bones I lost, will my sharps and edges
                      Hedge this fleshy
            Habit I’ve made of excess?

Already my heartracing startles
                      In another’s
            Twitches, my dinner hiccups

Another’s diaphragm. Already and almost
                      I swear I feel
            The protein creep of me, cell

By splitting cell, into another’s life.
                     This mother-grief
            Sorrows not for the heart-close one

I’ll lose from me at my delivery
                     But for my own
            Soul overboiling, unbound, bound

To a stranger’s groans, undone by his hurts
                     And remorses
            To the third and fourth

Generations.  What I’m birthing is my own
                     Diffusion.
            Never again mere. Never again my own.

More by Kimberly Johnson

Ode on My Episiotomy

Forget pearls, lace-edged kerchiefs, roomy pleats—
this is my most matronly adornment:
stitches purling up the middle of me
to shut my seam, the one that jagged gaped
upon my fecund, unspeakable dark,
my indecorum needled together
with torquemadan efficiency.  
But O!  the dream of the dropped stitch!  the loophole
through which that unruly within might thread,
catch with a small snag, pull the fray, unknit 
the knots unnoticed, and undoily me.

Don't lock up the parlor yet; such pleasure 
in unraveling, I may take up the sharps
and darn myself to ladylike again.

Foley Catheter

I clean its latex length three times a day
                      With kindliest touch,
           Swipe an alcohol swatch

From the tender skin at the tip of him
                      Down the lumen
            To the drainage bag I change

Each day and flush with vinegar.
                       When I vowed for worse
            Unwitting did I wed this

Something-other-than-a-husband, jumble
                       Of exposed plumbing
            And euphemism. Fumble

I through my nurse’s functions, upended
                        From the spare bed
            By his every midnight sound.

Unsought inside our grand romantic
                       Intimacy
           Another intimacy

Opens—ruthless and indecent, consuming
                        All our hiddenmosts.
            In a body, immodest

Such hunger we sometimes call tumor;
                       In a marriage
           It’s cherish.  From the Latin for cost.