Writer Jane Yolen graciously offered to share this poem with Friend for the Ride:
The Last Time
I didn’t mean to mourn,
I meant to laugh,
But my bloodline
Dribbled away so slowly,
I hardly noticed it had gone.
The biological clock having long since
There was no alarm.
And a kind of wistful death.
©2002 by Jane Yolen
If you had told me ten years ago that I would feel any sadness over the end of periods, I never would have believed you. No way!
Like Jane, I planned to laugh. I also planned to drink champagne and sing to the Period Goddess in the Sky, “See ya, sweetie. I’m done!” I did drink champagne, and I said my goodbyes to the Period Goddess. (She’s the one who, sometimes, gives you a break and helps you NOT get your period on the cruise to the Bahamas.)
But I understand the “kind of wistful death” that Jane describes. I feel it too.
Am I mourning the college girl, long gone, who dealt with periods as she juggled research papers, boyfriend, and dorm conversations that ended in happy hysterics? Am I missing the possibility of one more sweet baby? Am I grieving for a body that amazed me because it could count the days? Am I worrying about the body now, which certainly seems less efficient, and the one to come?
For those of you who are finished, what are your thoughts about no more periods? Any sadness, or just glee? And for those of you not there yet, any idea how you will feel?
In Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft, Jane gets to the heart of why we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard: “We write to know ourselves.”
And so a challenge for you: Write your own period poem! Please do. Silly or serious or anywhere in between. Or perhaps simply jot down some words that capture your thoughts about periods and/or not having periods anymore.
Be bold and brave! You can even use red ink.
Email your pieces to me, (BKYounger at gmail.com), and I’ll gather them together for a fun, literary post on Friend for the Ride.
You’re welcome to substitute a pen name for your real name or just send your first name.
Thanks from me AND the Period Goddess, who loves to read poems on her favorite topic.
The Poem: “The Last Time” is posted here by permission of the author. The poem was first published in Women. Period. Edited by Julia Watts, Parneshia Jones, Jo Ruby, and Elizabeth Slade. Spinster’s Ink, 2002.
The Poet: An opening page in Take Joy describes Jane Yolen as “America’s Hans Christian Andersen (Newsweek) and a modern-day Aesop (New York Times).” You can learn more about her as well as follow her insightful journal on her website, http://janeyolen.com/
Photo: I used Take Joy by Jane Yolen (Writer’s Digest Books, 2006) in critical essays I wrote while studying for my MFA in Writing at Vermont College. Now I read it to recharge my writing soul. The cover illustration was done by Linda Holt Ayriss.
Women. Period is a collection of poems, essays, and short stories about menstruation. The forward states that the book “celebrates both the diversity and the universality of the female experience. We are many; we are one.” The cover was designed by LA Callaghan. (And that’s some cover!)