Stomach Trouble / glenis redmond

We were never meant to survive
                                                                   Audre Lorde

Congenital defect means
my first breath was snatched
by trouble’s hand.

It held me
before I felt
my mama’s embrace.

All five of her babies,
born before time:
I was a whole month shy,

a small mahogany fist of cries
straining against a world
I was not ready to enter.

At 4 lbs. 6 oz.,
I arrived with loss
at my center: umbilical hernia.

My insides
pushing out:
the disposition of  a poet.

The doctor waited
4 years hoping
the hole would close

It refused.
the disposition
of a poet.

They tied my middle
into a not so perfect
in-y knot.I am twisted

by the turns: Duedenum,
Jejunum Ileum, Cecum.
Acid Reflux burn.

My body quakes
from undigested dreams
that I’ve tried to swallow.

I speak in tongues
with a bitter
aftertaste. I dance

to the involuntary rhythms
of my ancestor’s leftover lives.
I stomach trouble, so

I ache and flail
with spasmodic fits
of tongue, pen, and dance.

I rumble
to this burn trying
to turn the chyme.

To the table I came
ill-equipped to handle
what gets stuck in my gut.


Glenis Redmond, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, has lived in North Carolina amongst the Cherokee Mountains for the last 15 years. She graduated from Erskine College and completed an MFA in Poetry at Warren Wilson College.  She is a Cave Canem Fellow and an NC Literary Fellowship Recipient from the North Carolina Arts Council.  Her latest book of poetry is titled Under the Sun.