Friday, December 21, 2007

dear friends,
I have three blogs with different themes, although they merge sometimes.
Today I am posting a poem called Purdah at
dedicated to all mothers stuck in the house with small children this winter.

ps I have a mp3 of a reading of this and other poems but am searching for a way to post in on this blog.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A big thank you to Bella for awarding me this Lion's Roar for powerful words. I am deeply honoured, and pleased.

This is probably the last post before Christmas party season begins, so here's the story behind the poems.

I first set out to write a book about pregnancy and childbirth, and all things sexual related to it that have been silenced. It began in a Creative Writing 101 class at university, (after 12 years of slogging as a secretary, I decided to go back to school and follow my dream), with a taboo Journal project.

The subject of the Taboo Journal was women's/my sexual universe: everything from first hearing about women's blood in the school yard to sex during pregnancy, and beyond. I also wanted to break the taboo around talking about my mother's alcoholism during my childhood. Speaking up about these things was difficult at first, but got easier as I circled around and back and over the stories and feelings locked up for so long. Having children made it a necessary challenge, so that the legacy of silence was not perpetuated. Especially, I felt a strong need to break the cycle so my daughter wouldn't inherit all the hang-ups I had (well, I tried).

There is still more to write about, much that didn't make it into the first book. But I recorded my body landscape changes during first pregnancy, spoke openly about the dark side of mothering (at home, alone, cooped up in winter like a purdah), and also the mixed blessings and joys of breastfeeding (gorgeous blissful moments vs needle-like pain), and tried to honour the friendships with other women I made at that time.

I wish there were more copies available, but it was a small print run; now I'm moving on to writing about the larger Feminine Mysteries of menarche, mothering and menopause in a non-fiction way.

I do have a menopause survey and a menstruation survey that people could fill out for my research - once i figure out how to post it on this blog. You can email me if you are interested in participating.

muchos gracias,

Felice Navidad,


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Poem for Urban Earth Mama and all you moms

The Curse (written for Rhonda)

a baby in blue gingham kicks
her legs, smiles at me with teal-blue
eyes, smells of Baby's Own
spice; zinc ointment & powder
mixed with summer sweat & damp
saliva'd sheets

I see myself in her chubby arms
& thighs, this seal blubber baby.
mother said she liked girls best,
but my neighbour cried
when she knew it was a girl.
six months' pregnant
how not to become her Jewish mother?
her grandmother slapped her face
when she started her period,
slapping the curse out of her.

& me? part joy, part tears
my fears at having a girl
having to do with vaginas.
every time I change her diapers
I see we are the same:
same slit between the legs
same sweet flesh, same fear
that someone will open
this pearly oyster before its time
as they did
as he did.

from Little Mother, Hochelaga Press

I don't mean to freak anyone out with this poem, raising a girl (now 15) has been a beautiful sweet challenge

Sunday, December 16, 2007

here I am

in the midst of a swirling snowstorm. We have shovelled twice, and still the paths fill up with snow. Children are praying for more snow, a snow day tomorrow, no school.

last year the first snow was January 15 (the first real snow that lasted and covered the grass).

we are so blessed with a white christmas.

I feel happy, lucky, dancing around the kitchen with a glass of white wine while my husband cooks supper (that is another reason I'm happy).

Had a test to past this weekend, but the deed is done, all finished, think I passed with just under flying colours.

ok, breathe now. yesterday I was a shrieking mess, don't touch me don't call me don't ask me for anything I have to get this DONE

today I snuggle on the couch with my pooch and hubby, looking at all the snowmen and santa's decorating my mantle and shelves, and giggle inside

one more initiation of sorts, one more growing pain, one more stretch into where I am

here I am,

blessed be,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The woman's journey, part 2

As I look at the woman's journey towards unfolding her Self, the milestones are many, but three major ones could be the initiations or blood mysteries of menarche, pregnancy and birth, and menopause.

This piece was written shortly after the birth of my son, who is now 17. It tries to capture some of the otherwordly feel of being a new mother, the transformation out of 'time and space' and into some new symbiosis with an infant.

Birth Journey

She likes to look at that picture of herself and Julien, at three months. Despite the dark circles under her eyes, or perhaps because of them, her eyes have the wide open look of the newly born, a freshly washed liquid stare, so open, all barriers washed away in the flood of waters released when the sac was broken. After the mucous plug was removed the child had no more reason not to descend, not to engage in the passageway, the light not seen yet at the end of the tunnel but close, so close, only a few dancing stomps and drumbeats away. She had put on Paul Simon’s Graceland, some African rhythms to dance a child down. But a whole night of useless contractions later, in the morning, pitocyn drip, waters broken, back labour, and finally it took an epidural and rest before she could push him from her body.

Anyway, that washed look in her eyes, that was what she still marvels at. After such a long journey, the birthing and hard work, the sweating and sucking on ice chips, all the veiled looks in her eyes, the hidden selves are gone. Having lived the greatest mystery, a body dividing itself in two, she has now no more mystery about her. When she looks in the mirror, she sees her transparent reflection, her baby looks back from her face – she can hardly tell the difference between him and herself. She sleeps with her arms wrapped across her chest, in fÅ“tal position, curled on one side, enfolded in that same body-snuggle way the nurses taught her to wrap him in for security. She wakes when he wakes, sleeps when he sleeps, unaware yet of the luxury of having only one child’s rhythm to follow. The first step of initiation, the burning ring of fire around her vulva that finally stretched to let him pass, has brought another self into being. Something she will discover slowly, as she wakes.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wellness Wednesday blogs

Just discovered that Wednesday is Wellness Wednesday on Bella's blog, and you can read her amazing 'gold stars' list there.

If you haven't done so already, please check out what msmenopause has to say at and

It's funny writing about wellness, when you feel well. Two days ago I did not feel well, and I could have written a long list about what I need to do to feel well again.

One thing I am doing is (yee-gawds) forgoing the morning caffe latte. My favorite drink. But it's feeding the anxious person in me, the over nervous jittery rush everywhere-aholic.

So, black tea, one cuppa, that's it. NO headache's yet, thank goodness.

I cleaned out a few drawers yesterday in my kitchen (it's only been 3 years), and that felt good. We have a teenaged friend of my son's living with us, and his mother is very very neat, so needless to say, I feel a little more motivated to clean out crumbs and make order out of chaos.

that reminds me of a poem about housewives being heroes.

Canadian hero folds laundry

Today, CBC radio listeners have nominated Terry Fox as
an outstanding Canadian hero. May 10, 2004

Folding laundry, with quiet
I understand that chaos
and its theory need to be folded and put
in its place.
That the poet and artist’s role
is to fold chaos and put order
into words is a given,
that the housewife’s role is
to fold laundry and put
order into her house
is a given,
that the poet/housewife has a role
and that both of these roles
are equally essential to the universe
for they promote order
over chaos
is equally true, thus

as long as there are housewives and poets,
the laundry of the world
will never be left in dirty piles
and the dirty chaos lying await
in the basements of the world
will be neatly cleaned and folded
one more day.

Sometimes, folding laundry and putting order into my house feels very sane, helpful, good for my soul.

have a great wednesday,

Monday, December 03, 2007

Prayer to Kali

o goddess of black deeds
I have felt the knife's

fury in my wrists, the urge
to throw my baby

down the stairs, the blood
surge making me crazy

or just a lack of sleep
a fever in the chest

never enough rest
stomp yell slap bang

the knife on the counter
instead of hitting him

yet, next moment
all is calm, I soothe his

head, caress him next to
my heart, tell him I am dead

serious. I will not yell
if you don't. bargain, deal

but not beg, only
request. o ungentle goddess,

this anger
is not for him.

help me give tears to my sadness
voice to my rage

Little Mother, 1997
jennifer boire

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Women's Stories (a letter)

the ones we tell each other,
late at night or early in the morning
over coffee & a cigarette,
more than one if it's a story we've told
over and over like chain smoking, like
dirty laundry soaking in the tub, stains
evoking lost memories of teething, cut
lips, blood on the sweatshirt where
you held his head & he bled all over you

& you want to speak about this love
you have for other women who listen
intently, with their own pain showing
& many cigarettes to carry them
through the telling.

a compassionate voice or ear,
the closeness we feel yet cannot say
because we're afraid of a label
but what we really want, I want,
is someone fearless, a weaver of words
or truthteller, someone who's not afraid
of hurting while resetting a bone.

to talk about the helplessness of being
stuck in a house with a sick child,
the boredom that strikes,
the complaining we do, being called martyr
when all I really want is to tell someone
how unfair it is that I'm the only one
they call for in the middle of the night
& it's my ears hear them coughing
at 3 a.m. & I can't just lie there.

how to find out what our own needs are
& how to take care of ourselves,
not just wait for him to come home, take over,
pick up the toys and the pieces, mop up our spills,
how to find a quiet time, time alone,
time to think & write.
our need to be replenished with each other,
filling up our bowls with sugar & coffee
so we can tell our stories

not just talking over fences in the backyard
but actually getting out & seeing women
doing the same hard work,
no pay, no thanks, just their little faces
when one least expects it, smiling & asking
me to sing a song about I love you

or making up a song about superman
all by himself in the living room.
he says, go away mom, don't talk (meaning
I have to do this alone, don't listen
cause it might not be perfect the first time).

I send you this in guise of a letter
because that's the way the words are falling out
of my fingers. in my mind I hear
the tapping on keys and it comforts me
at least I can listen to myself talk
without talking out loud (for that's
what crazy women do).

so I keep on writing & dreaming
trying to live truthfully
with my emotions, in my body
and I hope you do the same.

from Little Mother, published by
Hochelaga Press 1997