Poems About Women’s Bodies
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
NO MORE RACHELS
What if there were no more Rachels
Striding, graceful and confident, to the well?
Each woman would cast her eyes down
When a man looked at her
And she would think:
My breasts are too small
My mouth is too wide,
My hair is the wrong color.
What if there were no more Rachels…?
—JANET RUTH HELLER
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.
THE DAUGHTER THAT FEARING FATHERS
(counter-dream against a would-be rapist)
You who brood on raping Sabine women,
who dream of ramming rods blood-full and juicy
into warm soft unawakened maidens,
graceful, slim, stain-barked young birch trees
or large-eyed nervous-nostriled velvet fawns,
who terrified will yield (discovering pleasure,
you fancy, in your stick’s rough penetration),
know: hate, not love, is the daughter fearing fathers.
Panting weights above arouse but Judiths.
Some unknown night when, trusting, you are sleeping,
pale Judith’s arms will raise up high her blade,
and she whose house was broken into, plundered,
will let steel fall and—that to make scores even:
“an eye for eye”—your head for maidenhead.
Doris Wight, who went back to college at 50, is now working toward a PH.D. in comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She has had poetry published in over 140 publications and has written a book of lyric poems.