Megeen R. Mulholland has recently published her first volume of poetry titled Orbit. She is an Associate Professor at Hudson Valley Community College where she teaches writing and serves on the Visiting Writers Committee. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including The Seattle Review, Blue Collar Review, Adanna Literary Journal, and Literary Mama.

 

Cycle

You needn’t be frightened
of the blood—
its color a ruddy reminder
we women are,
have been, and ever
will be, sacred.
I have been
blessed with you,
coming into your own
blessing—beatific, sanctified,
consecrated.

Your cycle begun
is no curse, my eldest
girl, but visible affirmation
of your essential feminine—
the surge and ebbing of your body
anticipating the baby—
like the one I never dreamed
would one day be, so
very splendidly, mine.

When did you grow into this
young and curious age of puberty?
When I, vigilant in my bliss,
must have missed you,
toward womanhood coming.
As you approach me,
already, I miss you.

I have passed on
the iron inherent,
in the blood—
thick with anticipation
for the long period forward,
the weight of it,
the necessity and constancy,
an intangible power
that belies the customs
of disgrace, shame,
and misplaced modesty
diminishing, sanitizing, and
disposing of our corpus,
Always, Always, Always.

Others are, I am sure,
putting a cheerful face on it,
denying their daughters the
truthful beauty of distinction—
of their entitled abnormalities.

I did not carry you
in my tummy, but my womb,
in all its bicornuate,
heart-shaped irony, love lost inside me—
the undue beginnings,
the earnest calendar,
the repeatedly waning hope
with every cycle of the moon
and every diagnosis—
didelphys, septate, arcuate—
spoken in condemnation,
with me prone on the stainless table,
the ultrasound screen quivering
with abandon—the evidence
all black and white.

Still, you came.
as it dawned on me—
in my queasy unease
early that May, when
I did not heed the lure of fatigue
but exalted the selection of you—
the one who finally clung to
me, and allowed me to
grasp the euphoria of gestation—

my body swelling in anticipation
and infinite complexity that
no textbook could ever explain—
your coming into being—
a true miracle witnessed
by my own femininity

the embodiment of my prayer and meditation,
my body nurturing, evolving,
in stages of madonna
toward motherhood, my body
clinging to your body clinging
in utero, golden embryo.

Delivering you in snow and halo—
casting back the light of the world,
your cry like the first word of life
lifting you most high, in glory,
an extension of myself, chosen
by you, my hereafter chosen one.

And beyond all this,
the hours suckling—
your cheek at my breast,
your lips at my nipple—
like an eternal font
pursed and drinking in
the milk I alone gave you
during our reverent rocking
each dawn brought to us—
my prominent chest swelling
with miraculous pride and surety.

Still, I cannot shed this sense of loss—
of my own divinity born again in you,
the pain of my own figure, acute—

not from the act of carrying you
on my back, on my chest,
on my hip, with your legs
around my waist and
my clasped hands
around your middle,
both of my arms aching—
not from the act of carrying
you, my virgin child,
but in the labor of
letting you go.