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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 2, June 2012


Autumn N. Hall
Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, USA

Parting the Red Sea

Running the water hot, I toss handfuls of scented salt to all four directions. A lavender invitation swirls into the steam.

permeable sheath—
a part of me osmoses,
merges with my bath . . .
only this light within
remains insoluble

I recall the earlier exchange in my doctor's office:

"Are you experiencing any muscle pain?"

"Yes—especially in my back and shoulders."



"Mood swings?"

"Yes, and they're getting worse."

"Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia . . . ?

"Yes to all three."

"Well, that all sounds quite normal—typical complaints for a woman your age . . ."

Great Pyrenees pups
grinning down from calendars—
'warm fuzzies'
stirrups clad in fluffy socks
then, "This may feel cold to you . . ."

privacy act—
white sheet draped, hiding me
only from myself . . .
polite conversation
amounts to none at all

The doctor reviews a list of additional symptoms; with each checkmark, I become slave to estrogen's cracking whip, victim of her abandonment.

"You should continue to use birth control, just in case."

trickle of blood
coiling like DNA
in the bath
a red-pen reminder:
life is still possible

As death has sealed my mother's lips and the Crone keeps her own counsel, I am without Elders. My departure from the Red Tent will be as my entrance—unceremonious; to this drum which beats for many, I will dance alone.

my body
borne on this scarlet tide
pulled by the moon . . .
I am water born of
water, illuminated

Note: "Red Tent," a term employed by Anita Diamant as the title of her 1997 novel, refers to an ancient Semitic tribal law which required menstruating/birthing women to take refuge in a separate tent, where they could confine themselves to the company and support of other women.



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