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Analysis of “Umbilical Code Bleeds” from “Every Stone That Turns” by Thomas Bvuma

The poem opens with the image of a man crawling and creeping, imbibing dust like a worm. This metaphor paints a picture of a person who is powerless, subservient, and struggling to survive. The words “imbibing dust” suggest that the man is ingesting the very substance that covers him, and this highlights the theme of poverty and deprivation that runs throughout the poem.

The next line, “Forced or chosen,” suggests that the man’s predicament may be a result of circumstances beyond his control, or it could be a choice that he has made. This ambiguity adds to the sense of hopelessness and futility that the poem conveys.

The following lines describe the man’s family, who are also suffering. The use of the words “starving” and “naked” underscores the extent of their deprivation and hardship. The juxtaposition of the man’s struggle with that of his family reinforces the idea that poverty is not an individual problem, but a societal one.

The next stanza shifts the focus to a woman who is described as “wriggled and writes.” The word “wriggled” suggests that she is also struggling, but the fact that she is writing implies that she is attempting to make her voice heard. However, the phrase “even as the umbilical code bleeds” suggests that she is not only grappling with poverty and oppression but also with the burden of history and tradition. This image of the “umbilical code” bleeding implies that the woman is grappling with something deeply ingrained in her cultural and social identity, something that she cannot easily shed.

The final stanza is a powerful and poignant question that sums up the overall message of the poem. The use of the pronoun “we” suggests that the poet is speaking on behalf of all those who are suffering. The question “Shall we ever stand upright on two’s and walk?” is a metaphor for the hope that one day, people will be able to overcome their struggles and achieve a sense of dignity and autonomy.

The poem’s title, “Umbilical Code Bleeds,” refers to the idea that people are often bound by tradition, history, and social structures that can be both empowering and limiting. The metaphor of the umbilical code bleeding suggests that while these ties are powerful and enduring, they can also be painful and difficult to overcome.
Overall, the poem “Umbilical Code Bleeds” is a powerful commentary on poverty, oppression, and the human condition. The imagery and metaphors used throughout the poem paint a vivid picture of people struggling to survive and to maintain their dignity in the face of overwhelming obstacles. The poem’s message is one of hope, that one day, people will be able to overcome their struggles and achieve a sense of autonomy and self-determination.

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