Full in the fat wallow of me,
Even to the marrow—
Blood plumping along in a red swell
Blushing my most unabashed
Skinpatches: nosetip, earlobe, wristshallow. O
Is a crush of too-muchness,
A malady of my baffled self awash.
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
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.
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
To the third and fourth
Generations. What I’m birthing is my own
Never again mere. Never again my own.
Copyright © 2015 by Kimberly Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 26, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I’ve been experimenting with this form, which features almost-rhymes over mixed-line stanzas. I suspect that my thinking formally about size and containment led naturally to this meditation on the way the pregnant body seems so unmanageably excessive.”
— Kimberly Johnson
Kimberly Johnson was born on January 9, 1971, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in Renaissance literature from the University of California at Berkeley.
Johnson is the author of three poetry collections: Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014), A Metaphorical God (Persea Books, 2008), and Leviathan with a Hook (Persea Books, 2002).
In her review of A Metaphorical God, Lisa Russ Spaar writes, “Johnson’s poems adopt a number of their forms from mystical or sacred texts—psalms, divinations, odes, hymns, spells—but her settings are as earthbound as her own scorched backyard garden or the driver’s seat of a white pickup careering down a highway during a thunderstorm.”
A literary critic and translator as well as a poet, Johnson is also the author of the scholarly work Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), a translation of Virgil’s Georgics (Penguin, 2011), and Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days (Northwestern University Press, 2017).
Johnson is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Utah Arts Council. She teaches creative writing and Renaissance literature at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014)
A Metaphorical God (Persea Books, 2008)
Leviathan with a Hook (Persea Books, 2002)
Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)
Date Published: 2015-05-26
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/farrow