Tradition & Innovation

As My Daughter Bleeds, So Do I

By Valerie Root Wolpe

As my daughter bleeds, so do I.
Arhythmically, through an elliptical lunar phase.
Her womb is learning its beat, while mine is
missing measures or coming in on the
wrong count.

With Ariel's first bicycle, I held the seat
until she learned to ride.
How quickly her body found its own balance
and moved away from me, independently.
I stood in the street holding onto her return.

On her first period, I held her close
and drew her a hot bath, suspending time.
Her womb was on its own now, in free flowing richness.
This was not a privilege I could take away from her.
I gave her pads for her bleeding seat.

Lately, I ride behind my daughter, pulled
by the secret song of her steady cycle, up
hills, past swings, past babies, past youth.
Our rhythm eases my unshed longings.
I pass the water bottle over to her, like a baton.

One day, anticipating red, only my daughter will bleed instead.
My womb will rest in full stop. Hers will accelerate on, and
perhaps she, too, will sleep with babies in her bed.
And then, only my heart will move blood
in syncopated red rushes of love.

Written for Ariel's Menarche Ritual. Used by permission of the author. Copyright, 2000.

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