Belly good

Original Text: 
© The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme by Marge Piercy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999): 50-51. PS 3566 .I4A89 1999 Robarts Library
2but I've never seen wheat in a pile.
3Apples, potatoes, cabbages, carrots
4make lumpy stacks, but you are sleek
5as a seal hauled out in the winter sun.
6I can see you as a great goose egg
7or a single juicy and fully ripe peach.
8You swell like a natural grassy hill.
9You are symmetrical as a Hopewell mound,
10with the eye of the navel wide open,
11the eye of my apple, the pear's port
12window. You're not supposed to exist
13at all this decade. You're to be flat
14as a kitchen table, so children with
15roller skates can speed over you
16like those sidewalks of my childhood
17that each gave a different roar under
18my wheels. You're required to show
19muscle striations like the ocean
21Clothing is not designed for women
22of whose warm and flagrant bodies
23you are a swelling part. Yet I confess
24I meditate with my hands folded on you,
25a maternal cushion radiating comfort.
26Even when I have been at my thinnest,
27you have never abandoned me but curled
28round as a sleeping cat under my skirt.
29When I spread out, so do you. You like
30to eat, drink and bang on another belly.
31In anxiety I clutch you with nervous fingers
32as if you were a purse full of calm.
33In my grandmother standing in the fierce sun
34I see your cauldron that held eleven children
35shaped under the tent of her summer dress.
36I see you in my mother at thirty
37in her flapper gear, skinny legs
38and then you knocking on the tight dress.
39We hand you down like a prize feather quilt.
40You are our female shame and sunburst strength.
Copyright 2000 The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme by Marge Piercy Alfred A. Knopf

Notes

1] From "The Song of Songs" in Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures, the New JPS Translation (The Jewish Publication Society, 1985): 1415:
Your belly like a heap of wheat
Hedged about with lilies ....

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20] Hopewell mound: earthwork characteristic of a prehistoric Indian culture occupying the Ohio region ca. 100 B.C.-500 A.D. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1992
Publication Notes: 
Halliope: Women's Body Images 14.3 (1992): 8-9.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.
Rhyme: 
Form: 
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Marge Piercy, Leapfrog Press or Knopf permissions department.</b>