Ode to Her Belly

by Philip Metres 


Harder than I imagined, her
pregnant belly, the thick rind
of womb pliable yet taut. O
sweet shield of flesh. Lighter

apricot her placid skin. Yet
something fins its trouble
just beneath the surface, fist or foot
probing bounds of the sudden

aquarium. Not quite Rodin’s
“Gates of Hell,” seething limbs
clothed in stone—but the same thrusting
impeded, gloved by a half-globe.

How it bounces when she’s sitting
and laughs, a basketball dribbled
in ribs. How it’s between us,
when she turns toward me in bed,

how it strains my reach when she
turns away. Hauled without hands.
Dragged bag of sugar, coiled
sleeping boa constrictor.

PHILIP METRES is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015), I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (2015), To See the Earth (2008), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, the Hunt Prize, Arts & Letters, two Arab American Book Awards, the Cleveland Arts Prize and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. He is professor of English at John Carroll University in Cleveland.