A Journal of Menstruation and Culture
by Judy Grahn
An excerpt from the poem, women are tired of the ways men bleed
Images of blood are all around us, everywhere
in our modern urbanized society blood is
depicted, spoken of, displayed:
The blood of wound, of death and to a tiny extent
birth, is part of daily viewing in television
and films; we are completely familiar
with the bloodlines of kinship, and with the blood
of violence, of murder and vengeance, of sacrifice,
suffering, and of IV drug users; the blood
of warning, of wounding, of threat; the danger
attached to the blood of AIDS; the blood of life, of
transfusions, of redemption; the blood of Christ;
the blood of martyrdom, of St. Sebastian, of the prize
fighter depicted in the movies. Blood is
genealogy in bloodlines, family blood,
the blood that is thicker
Blood is in name and in common
expression, in the blood of the lamb, in the blood
of blood, sweat and tears, in the blood of the Sangre
de Christo Mountains, in the blood of blood brothers,
the blood of the stigmata, the blood on the moon,
the blood that cannot be squeezed from turnips,
the blood dripping from the mouth of the vampire,
the bloodstain on Lady Macbeth's hands, the blood
gurgling down the shower drain in horror films.
Real blood is everywhere in our society, Saturday-
night blood, drive-by-shooting blood, the blood he was
covered in after he was shot, or stabbed
or blown up; the pencil- thin line like a necklace
across her throat, the great spread of it when she was
chopped up, the bloody nose, the bleeding ulcer,
the sting of hemorrhoids, the blood on the surgeon's
gown and the butcher's apron, the many rivers of
battle and massacre that have run with blood,
the battlefield soaked, the sand reddened,
the blood on the child's ear and the wife's
mouth and the young man's cheek.
In the cities the gutters are streaming
and sidewalks pooled and car seats puddled and
emergency rooms smeared and police clubs stained.
When gangster John Dillinger's body fell on the street
shot by the FBI and spouting
from numerous holes
passersby instantly leaped as though
to a holy stream, to dip
a handkerchief, newspaper, even
a sleeve into the blood of his wounds, to take
a bit home with them.
Blood is magic
Blood is holy
And wholly riveting of our attention.
Menstrual blood is the only source of blood
that is not traumatically induced.
Yet in modern society, this is the most
hidden blood, the one rarely spoken of
and almost never seen
except privately by women, who shut themselves
in little rooms to quickly and perhaps disgustedly
change their pads and tampons,
wrapping the bloodied cotton so it won't be seen
by others, wrinkling their faces at the odor,
flushing or hiding the evidence away.
Blood is everywhere
and yet the one
the single name
it has not had publicly
for many centuries
is menstrual blood.
Menstrual blood, like water
Its fountain existed
long before knives or flint.
is the original source of blood.
Menstrual is blood's secret name.
© 1993, 2007