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Nidah (The Menstruant)

I cannot enter the sanctuary
Or share the communal supper.
Everything on which I sit is unclean,
And my touch makes any man impure
Until the evening.
I cannot enter the bed with my lover.

But the elm breeze caresses me,
Lingering around my breasts and hips;
Tawny kittens lick the salt from my flesh,
And my daughter laughs and kisses my lips.

Janet Ruth Heller has published poetry in Women: A journal of Liberation, Earth’s Daughters, The Reconstructionist. and other magazines. She is an editor of Primavera. a women’ s literary magazine based in Chicago.