Thursday, 5 October 2017

Today's Moon Prize, the twelfth Moon Prize,* goes to Nina Rubinstein Alonso's poem "Gender Veils: Moth Women"—backdating to the full moon of August 7, 2017. This poem has wings.


Gender Veils: Moth Women     

by Nina Rubinstein Alonso


1. Veils

First time Tangier           
women in black veils                                      
wrapped like moths at night 

wings stuck to our front door
chill November signals winter
or something else meaning unclear 

tubes of dark cloth with
women folded inside
walking fear

because our voices
vibrate high notes judged 
unconvincing meaning female

wrapped in satin shawls
lower the tone try to understand
pressure of gender generations  

no school no vote own no   
property even babies belong to ‘him’ 
father brother husband

holy books distort dogma
pulled down from infinite source
as if divine wears gender.


2. Ropes

Woman in a Persian garden
arms chained to a blooming tree

no dancing nymph
no swirl of drapery

she screams she cries            
who wouldn’t go mad 

wearing cuffs of gold or iron
caged prisoner wrists

can’t move
can’t try can’t attempt

let rules from ancient days
bend before my axe.


3.    Earth Woman Sky              
                                              
She draws moth wings
dark shapes                                             
luna six spot                        
burnet grey dagger

emperor gum
blotched emerald                  
silver vagabond                   
teardrop orchid

adders mouth
adam and eve                      
fairy slipper name after name
lifting moth woman 
             
bent over hair nailed to the ground
cut free will she stand       
are her legs strong enough                     
can earth wings fly?


4.  Noises of leaden prayer

In the brass heat of day
wrapped women
fear men
carrying weapons  
                                                                                                                                                                   
fear change                                                                                                                                          
I’m one spy of many                        
writing underground pages              
whispering under my veil   
                           
pouring light                
generations forward                
we’ll get shot at 
bleed explanations

before brutes  
hearts nailed tight
as it belief makes                 
violence holy

supposedly sacred
banners wave
fraud as truth 
lies insist

trying to shout us down
with noise of funerals
undulant thunder
of leaden prayer.


* * * * *

Nina R. Alonso's work has appeared in Ibbetson Street, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, U. Mass. Review, Sumac, WomenPoems, Constant Remembrance, Cambridge Artists Cooperative, Muddy River Poetry Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Black Poppy Review, BagelBards, etc. Her stories appeared in Southern Women's Review, Broadkill Review, Tears and Laughter, etc., and most recently in Peacock Literary Review. She works with Constellations a Journal of Poetry and Fiction.


The Moon Prize ($91) is awarded once a month on the full moon for a story or poem posted in Writing In A Woman's Voice during the moon cycle period preceding a full moon. I don't want this to be competition. I simply want to share your voices. And then I want to pick one voice during a moon cycle for the prize. I fund this with 10% of my personal modest income. I wish I could pay for each and every poem or story, but I am not that rich. (Yet.) For a while I will run a few months behind with this prize—eventually I expect to catch up to the current month.

Why 91? 91 is a mystical number for me. It is 7 times 13. 13 is my favorite number. (7 isn't half bad either.) There are 13 moons in a year. I call 13 my feminist number, reasoning that anything that was declared unlucky in a patriarchal world has to be mystically excellent. Then there are 4 times 91 days in a year (plus one day, or two days in leap years), so approximately 91 days each season. In some Mayan temples there are or were 91 steps on each of four sides. Anyway, that's where the number 91 comes from, not to mention that it's in the approximate neighborhood of 100.


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