Poetry by Uma Menon

January 22, 2019
Art by Kirsten Hemrich

1. Portrait of Adolescent America

I find America tucked away

inside the lines of my hand,

searching for a safe-space

in a trench of creases /


Close my fist & watch promise

escape, wings of a butterfly

leave me empty-handed even

to the blood of my own veins /


Here in a dressing room

is America, changing identity

& tasting the confusion

of someone else’s skin /


Unfit plastic hangers scatter

a darkened floor, among

broken bodies, destroyed

by a structure of violence /


Inside her mouth, a song turns rough,

something forbidden between her teeth:

polarized by a distinct tastelessness,

marked by a swallowing aftertaste /


A hormonal America screams,

heartless, into formless pillows;

she asks for answers to arrive

& will for true effort /


America fights against her

dysphoria, trying, learning

to appreciate every scar from

freedom-fighting on her body /


The first time America dyes

her hair, she realizes that every

color is more beautiful than

her fathers declared them to be /


2.  time-lapse of girlhood

as i grow up

i learn

to spit out words

            of distaste

to bite only the cookies

            that are under-baked

to rename my identity

            out of spite


in response

my mother tells me that

she who asks for forgiveness

for someone else’s sin

is a mother

& sinks back in

to the blades of her shoulders


one day i realized my rage

            would never be more than


            my passion

            would never be more than



            would be nothing more than

an angry girl


this day,

i imagine a voice inside my stomach

                        only to silence it

in fear that someone else

                                    will hear it

& condemn a worthless life

            keep my feet on the ground

swelling to match

a full earth


3. The Universe, a Woman

  1. Prologue

They say the universe formed with one big bang but

we all know it must have a mother.

Listen to the theory of maternal relativity,

find power to expand. The blood

of the universe has turned cold in search

of its mother.

  1. Galaxies

There was a time when my path was enshrined,

when you worshipped my footsteps, gravitating

towards each of my movements. Call it a galaxy.

There was a time when you savored the milk I spilled

and bottled it up like a genie for posterity to stare

and wonder at.

There was a time when you looked up at the sky

& saw only my light. You prayed to me

& divinity.

  1. Nebula

They say that when woman is angry

she devours the whole world.

They are wrong, of course –

she devours the entire universe.

All that is left is dust,

dust in more colors than emotions felt

when I swallow you whole.

My fingers are the pillars of creation

that give you this life. I birth the stars you sing of.

Orbit me. Feel ego dissipate into dust,



By Uma Menon


Uma Menon is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, FL. Her writing has appeared in Dark River Review, Ms. Magazine, and Borgen Magazine, among others. Her first chapbook was published with Zoetic Press in January 2019. Uma is also a nationally-ranked Lincoln-Douglas Debater and activist for marginalized groups.

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