My fingers push into my belly.

My little pouch springs back,

flexible, and there, two jagged lines like

surgical cuts dug into my pliable flesh.


I am contorted on the floor, cold tile

pressed into cellulite, neck strained

in butterfly fold, my back screaming 

with tension: What is this??


I never asked to be a map of red lines,

red skin, flushed face. Who even gave

permission?? for cracks to twist

skin into curves, point and say, 


look at this growth, this rise and fall, 

these waves that ripple, squish, pleat,

balloon. But they break their own rules:

these marks are straight up over my stomach,


harsh, burning red, one, two, off center. 

I look for a third, for a line of symmetry,

and am almost disappointed that I 

don’t burst at the seams.


Katie Mihalek is a poet living in Somerville, MA. She has earned a M.S. in Medical Sciences from Boston University and is an MFA Candidate at Emerson College. She is a poetry reader for Redivider. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Whorl, The Underground, and Beyond Words.