My original wound was my deepest:
half-inch divot where the cord shriveled off
and a plunging ache that never scabbed
where my umbilical name sloughed away, –
forgotten now, but it meant Belong. Whole
again and joyful when my ninth-month
belly swelled with genial weight, skin taut,
fullest at the center line where tender
the navel flattened out, its secret flesh
splayed to surface, until my familiar
agony: headlong and vulnerable,
our mutual attachment already
obsolescing, you inherit your original wound.
– No, original loneliness.
* * * * * *
Kimberly Johnson lives in Salt Lake, Utah, and is the author of two collections of poetry, Leviathan with a Hook (2002) and A Metaphorical God (2008). "Ode on my belly button" as published in the Yale Review and in the latter collection.
Her poetry, translations, and scholarly essays have appeared widely in publications including The New Yorker, Slate, The Iowa Review, and Modern Philology.