Menstruation at Forty
I was thinking of a son.
The womb is not a clock
nor a bell tolling,
but in the eleventh month of its life
I feel the November
of the body as well as of the calendar.
In two days it will be my birthday
and as always the earth is done with its harvest.
This time I hunt for death,
the night I lean toward,
the night I want.
speak of it!
I was in the womb all along.
I was thinking of a son . . .
You! The never acquired,
the never seeded or unfastened,
you of the genitals I feared,
the stalk and the puppy's breath.
Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)
Can you be the man your fathers are
the leg muscles from Michaelangelo,
hands from Yugoslavia,
somewhere the peasant, Slavic and determined,
somewhere the survivor, bulging with life
and could it still be possible,
all this with Susan's eyes?
All this without you
two days gone in blood.
I myself will die without baptism,
a third daughter they didn't bother.
My death will come on my name day.
What's wrong with the name day?
It's only an angel of the sun.
weaving a web over your own,
a thin and tangled poison.
My death from the wrists,
two name tags,
blood worn like a corsage
one on the left and one on the right
It's a warm room,
the place of blood.
Leave the door open on its hinges!
Two days for your death
and two days until mine.
Love! That red disease
year after year, David, you would make me wild!
David! Susan! David! David!
full and disheveled, hissing into the night
never growing old,
waiting always on the back porch . . .
year after year,
my carrot, my cabbage,
I would have possessed you before all women,
calling your name,
calling you mine.