Friday, November 30, 2007

Stripping of a woman on the cusp of menopause

If only she could, she would pick up her arms
and give them to her children, her heart to her husband,
her womb to her daughter, but all her parts are ailing,
lying on the floor awaiting rejuvenation. She lies still,
receiving breath, broken down to basic particles.
What to do on the days when tears drop into her soup?
It’s ok to be sad and do nothing on the list, she thinks,
Except the simple tasks like laundry,
except read poetry. What better refuge
Maybe that’s where poems come from, and for,
to remind us there is something else to do
than the ‘to do’ list –
the soul cries for meaning.

She reads “Trees lose parts of themselves inside a circle of fog” (*by Francis Ponge)
It sounds like the stripping of a woman at menopause,
in the years leading up to the full withholding of the monthly blood,
she has shed her leaves, lost muscle strength, put on weight,
absorbed moisture before the season of dryness,
felt as if she has water on the brain,
disconnected and disoriented by the shift in hormones
waking her up at night and putting other parts of her to sleep.

She is not out to pasture yet, but the young colts no longer bolt
from her body or frolic at her side. She is slowing down.
And if she doesn’t allow herself to rest, she is brought to her knees
in a wave of heat and tears, unable to juggle her roles,
nor exchange the chef’s hat for the sombrero,
Her feet fell heavy and her mind dull.
She tells herself, it is temporary, like fall and the cold.
Brisk winds will return her to spring’s green time,
but only after she has lain fallow, composting
her leafy spices, at the end of a cycle.

Oh the music she needs to comfort her,
and the long night she’ll travel through for years,
until the bright sunlight reclaims her.
Then her wisdom is as legion as the new yellow-green leaves
waving on the hill at dawn.

Human, faulty, imperfect, no more striving for anything,
except for compassion,
the need for self-love reverberating
like the hum she hears in Leonard Cohen’s voice,
claiming darkness as its source
it rings true, full of light.

@Jennifer Boire

Friday, November 23, 2007

Menopause poetry

Cross Currents

by Noelle Sickels

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.

- Marge Piercy

read them again!
aren't they great....
ps thanks to Lynn for the second one

Monday, November 19, 2007

My body

He’s coming in for that flying hug.
These are mine, he says,
Put them on my body.
(If I hadn’t weaned him, he’d still be rooting for milk.)

My three-year-old girl takes a shower with me, plants
a kiss on my nipple as I lean to dry my feet.
At bedtime she wants to snuggle too, just like
her older brother. He’s intense as a lover
claiming his own. She only plays at owning my body.
She lifts my right breast out of my nightgown, places
her lips around the long nipple, sucks
for a second, until I pull away, surprised
at the warm mouth sensation.

I think of Artemis of the many-hundred breasts.
Our mother hunger is bottomless,
no flesh & blood could fill the void.

Guess how much I love you?
Thirty times around the house &
all the way to China, says Katie,
my little girl
who is not mine, but water
through my fingers.

How I love to feel her solid
weight on my breast.

from Angel in the House poems series
@ Jennifer Boire

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bitch Goddess

Bitch goddess

how she snarls at the moon!

tail bone high,
she raises her hindquarters to the wind
howls to the four directions, claiming

her Space

warns me, if I don’t listen to her
yelping & crying
she’ll tear me apart with her teeth.

I’m learning a healthy respect,
let her sniff my palms, and crotch.
she scares my angelic side, with her dirty paws –

get down! I want to yell,
go take a bath.

but she is getting down in the desert dust,
rolling, getting an itch out.

she invites me down on all fours,
knees to the dirt
(my pretty white leggings stained).

But soon I’m wagging my butt
& howling, too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What is peri-menopause?

I keep running into women who wonder if they are in peri-menopause, whether they are 47 or 51, and who think their doctors will let them know, or a blood test. Is it a matter of keeping the balance of estrogen and progesterone? Is there a way to know if it's officially begun?

Usually it starts quite simply. At least in my case, it began with a few heat rays zooming up and down my spine, before I even knew what a hot flash was. Somewhere in my mid-40's I think.
Plus my doctor, after age 40, had told me your ovulation will begin any time after your period, even the next day, so be careful with birth control. It won't follow the same pattern. So I was on the look-out way before it began.

I think it took til age 45 before any major disruption in my period began, maybe even closer to 49, when all hell broke loose. No, that's not true. I started noticing PMS lasted longer and longer, until it was half the month. At ovulation, I was having sharp attacks of irritability lasting only a day or so. And some spotting in between periods, before they began skipping a month here and there in random order. Then six months in a row. Then 2 more periods. Heavy cleansing ones.

Insomnia was a given, but that had been more or less present since having kids. Every night was musical beds practically, because whenever my daughter had a bad dream or needed company she'd end up in my bed, I'd move into the guest room, and so on.

At age 50, my daughter finally grew out of needing me at night, and I began the 13-month period of no menses. After the 13th month, at age 51, I was officially menopausal. I still get night sweats after too much red wine, or hot flashes occasionally, but rarely. It seems in my case to be related to liver function.

I think the best thing I ever did was see a therapist at one point, to talk about my emotional turbulence and roller coaster of hi's and lo's. A lot of tears later, my PMS had shrunk to a manageable period. And my heart seemed lighter. There's a song of Lhassa's (spanish Montreal singer) that goes, "my head was full, but my heart still wanted more" (rough translation). That's how peri-menopause was - a labryrinth in the dark, turning in circles, not knowing what I wanted any more, but sure that I wasn't getting it. Needing time alone, time away, time for just me. In spite of everything on the outside being just fine, family-work-home wise.

But we are all different. Just talking to my sister Sue (hi Sue) in England, who is 2 years younger, and still going through peri-menopause. For her, progesterone cream works. She had chronic fatigue, and adrenal exhaustion, and progresterone helped her through that. High estrogen, like the Promensil (red clover supplement) I was taking for hot flashes, wouldn't have helped.

I guess the bottom line is, listen to your symptoms, get medical advice, use your google search function, and just know that everybody is different - there is no one panacea. Rest, good food, exercise, all the common sense healers are usually a safe place to start. It may be relatively smooth for you, who knows.

I really recommend the women doctors at as an excellent resource, with articles on all the possible symptoms and how to remedy them.

happy November, Scorpio babies!


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