Poem-a-Day - "Menopause" by C. Prudence Arceneaux

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April 29, 2022 

Menopause

C. Prudence Arceneaux

For further reference: I go to love
like a fire engine to a three-alarm,                               flashing

and spinning, yelling across town. Nothing
to be afraid of: the ceiling falling,                                 windows 

concave, doors bowed and stiff. My body 
parts fall to, like I was made                                          of the heat. 

Everyone watches, chest-clutching, pointing. 
Inhalation will surely be the cause of                          my death.

Urban myth says an aging vagina once
well-used will shrink from lack                                     of exercise.

I would think, instead, like the collar of a sweater,
stretched, gaping. Or a fish out                                     of water,

grasping for purchase. A soft pop every time
you check to see whether or not                                    it is dead.

I want a song to be written about me: black
pearls, sulfur, bronze-plated silver.                              It should 

have a verse about blood-soaked hands,
a chorus that is a shout of                                               AAAAAHHHHH!

[Sing it with me:                                                               AAAAAHHHHH!]

It won’t be a song where someone stares into 
lit windows from the end of a driveway                       on the last note.

Copyright © 2022 by C. Prudence Arceneaux. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“Menopause came early for me, although not early enough. I spent most of my early twenties trying to find a doctor who would remove my perfectly healthy reproductive parts. Too few people believed someone so young could know what she wanted and what she did not want. So, I did what any good nerd would do: I read as much as I could about menopause so I’d be prepared for both sides of the argument. And because learning never stops, I still read books about menopause. Recently, I ran across Flash Count Diary. I remember one section in particular that talked about the freedoms during this stage of life: the freedom from childcare, the freedom from matronly duties, the freedom from being beautiful, and the freedom from derailing sexual desires. And the first thing I thought as I slammed the book shut was, I WILL NOT. Because, what is life without some derailing sexual desires?”
C. Prudence Arceneaux

C. Prudence Arceneaux is the author of Liberty (Finishing Line Press, 2021). She is a professor of English and creative writing at Austin Community College in Austin, where she lives.
Liberty
(Finishing Line Press, 2021)

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Thanks to Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow Books, 2021), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Listen to a Q&A about Nye’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year.
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