Published on Academy of American Poets (

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.


From A Metaphorical God by Kimberly Johnson. Copyright © 2009 by Kimberly Johnson. Used by permission of Persea Books, Inc. (New York). All rights reserved.


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.

Selected Bibliography


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: 2009-01-01

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