Something To Look Forward To
By Marge Piercy
The moon’s choreography
is less reliable now.
Unlike the obedient tides
my body chooses its own tempo,
sways out of rhythm
then drifts in step again
for a measure or two.
It surprises my attention.
I had forgotten this last bend
in the yawing currents;
Did not expect as much drama
as at the beginning,
when childhood washed away
like an unguarded doll
at the water’s edge;
Or in the middle,
when all of me swelled
with the briny broth
of a stranger’s life.
Now, again, I search the mirror,
hunt for how my face reveals
the changing course within.
People say I do not look my age,
as if I’d won a prize.
They say I am too young
to parenthesize the moon.
I can not always say I do not like
what people say;
do not, some days, want
to conjure back the blood,
rejoin the familiar round.
do not, like a lone sailor
in a cloud-thick night
long to drop anchor
and forget the creaking tiller
the unknown destination
the shape of undreamt shores.
Something to Look Forward To
Menopause — word used as an insult:
a menopausal woman, mind or poem
as if not to leak regularly or on the caprice
of the moon, the collision of egg and sperm,
were the curse we first learned to call that blood.
I have twisted myself to praise that bright splash.
When my womb opens its lips on the full
or dark of the moon, that connection
aligns me as it does the sea. I quiver,
a compass needle thrilling with magnetism.
Yet for every celebration there’s the time
it starts on a jet with the seatbelt sign on.
Consider the trail of red amoebae
crawling onto hostess’s sheets to signal
my body’s disregard of calendar, clock.
How often halfway up the side of a mountain,
during a demonstration with the tactical police
force drawn up in tanks between me and a toilet;
during an endless wind machine panel with four males
I the token woman and they with iron bladders
I have felt that wetness and wanted to strangle
my womb like a mouse. Sometimes it feels cosmic
and sometimes it feels like mud. Yes, I have prayed
to my blood on my knees in toilet stalls
simply to show its rainbow of deliverance.
My friend Penny at twelve, being handed a napkin
the size of an ironing board cover, cried out
Do I have to do this from now till I die?
No, said her mother, it stops in middle age.
Good, said Penny, there’s something to look forward to.
Today supine, groaning with demon crab claws
gouging my belly, I tell you I will secretly dance
and pour out a cup of wine on the earth
when time stops that leak permanently;
I will burn my last tampons as votive candles.