Tag Archives: birth

“Birthing” and “The Menstrual Lodge”

There are two poems today. Spring is here bringing the annual seasonal time of new birth. The power of birth is undeniable and available to all of us in its many faces. The first poem celebrates the poetic possibilities of fresh emergence while the second poem is much darker.

Birthing                                                                                              Mary Tallmountain

On the dark side I slip


like silk through night and chaos

wind splinters my hair

peacocks stalking

wild and sensuous as jewels

I see earth through their eyes

past bursting patterns


flashing at utmost speed


O I hear the light


The Menstrual Lodge                                                                       Ursula K. Le Guin

Accepting the heavy destiny of power,
I went to the small house when the time came.
I ate no meat, looked no one in the eye,
and scratched my fleabites with a stick:
to touch myself would close the circle
that must be open so a man can enter.
After five days I came home,
having washed myself and all I touched and wore
in Bear Creek, washed away the sign,
the color, and the smell of power.

It was no use. Nothing,
no ritual or servitude or shame,
unmade my power, or your fear.

You waited in the thickets in the winter rain
as I went alone from the small house.
You beat my head and face and raped me
and went to boast. When my womb swelled,
your friends made a small circle with you:
We all fucked that one.
Who knows who’s the father?

By Bear Creek I gave birth, in Bear Creek
I drowned it. Who knows who’s the mother?
Its father was your fear of me.

I am the dirt beneath your feet.
What are you frightened of? Go fight your wars,
be great in club and lodge and politics.
When you find out what power is, come back.

I am the dirt, and the raincloud, and the rain.
The walls of my house are the steps I walk
from the day of birth around the work I work,
from giving birth to day of death.
The roof of my house is thunder,
the doorway is the wind.
I keep this house, this great house.

When will you come in?




Not all the poems  we discuss in class are liked, in fact many are not. Sometimes poems create silence and sometimes they inspire a lot of conversation. The content and structure of this poem is very well built. The information in the poem presses on the reader as it must do the poet. The ideas that can be taken from this poem to write to are massive as well, whether you are drawn to it or not.


Onset                                                                                                              Kim Addonizio


Watching that frenzy of insects above the bush of white flowers,

bush I see everywhere on hill after hill, all I can think of

is how terrifying spring is, in its tireless, mindless replications.

Everywhere emergence: seed case, chrysalis, uterus, endless manufacturing.

And the wrapped stacks of Styrofoam cups in the grocery, lately

I can’t stand them, the shelves of canned beans and soups, freezers

of identical dinners; then the snowflake-diamond-snowflake of the rug

beneath my chair, rows of books turning their backs,

even my two feet, how they mirror each other oppresses me,

the way they fit so perfectly together, how I can nestle one big toe into the other

like little continents that have drifted; my God the unity of everything,

my hands and eyes, yours; doesn’t that frighten you sometimes, remembering

the pleasure of nakedness in fresh sheets, all the lovers there before you,

beside you, crowding you out? And the scouring griefs,

don’t look at them all or they’ll kill you, you can barely encompass your own;

I’m saying I know all about you, whoever you are, it’s spring

and it’s starting again, the longing that begins, and begins, and begins.