Wednesday 3 May 2017


by Kathleen Murphey

the Menses pause.

But that’s not quite right.
The Menses stop.
The Bleeding stops.

But that’s not quite right.
Just like the pregnancy no one told you about,
Menopause is an allover body experience,
and different for every woman,
different day to day,
different month to month until it’s through.

Acne, not again!

Hot Flashes so bad you want to do an Al Bundy
and live in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
Maybe—maybe not.

Disrupted sleep, irritability
(as if women couldn’t be stereotyped as moody and irrational anymore)?

Facial hair,
Yes, Deal with It; make a plan.

How many times must a woman feel betrayed by her body?
Puberty, Pregnancy, Menopause, Death.
Men only truly feel that with death.
Why is that?

These stages of female life,
our culture dreads,
instead of admires, admonishes, acolytes, acclaims, adores.

Instead we abhor any sign of female courses.
Female blood is dirty, contaminated, corrupt.
Just like the organ it flows through—
the vagina,
the twat,
the c*nt (the ultimate shame word)—
and the woman who likes to use it,
the slut,
the whore,
the c*nt (again the ultimate shame word,
but with a slightly different twist— or maybe not—
Is there a c*nt of a c*nt?  Or is she/it just a big C*nt, maybe with a capital C—
but enough of an aside.

Back to female blood,
dirty, contaminated, corrupt.
Let’s sanitize it.

Female blood, female bleeding—
call it menstruation,
all related to “mensis”—
Latin for “month”—
even then—unspeakable,
dirty, contaminated, corrupt.

The Menses, that Time of the Month,
a Woman’s Period,
The Curse.

Even Menorrhea—
the monthly flow—
flow of what?
Flow of BLOOD.

What’s so difficult about saying that?
But it’s dirty, contaminated, corrupt.

So let’s fix it.
Sanitary pads,
Feminine Hygiene Products,
Feminine Personal Care Products.
Tampon—from the French “tampion”
meaning a piece of cloth to stop a hole, a stamp, a plug, a stopper—
Aren’t you glad your vagina is reduced to a hole to be plugged?
That’s how Picasso saw it—
the misogynistic pig.
In the US, the tampon is a considered a Class II medical device by the FDA—
Did you ever guess?

Back to Female Blood and Menopause—
It Stops.

But that’s not quite right.
It becomes erratic,
and different for each woman going through it.

The normal blood and, then, an odd lingering flow,
that’s not enough to use anything; you only notice after a pee.

A sudden torrent of blood
that catches you off guard
and has you scrambling for anything to contain the flow.

A weird thickish blood,
Almost like tar.

It skips.
It comes back.
And then in a strange moment of realization, It’s gone.

Thirty to forty years of your “little friend”—
and she’s gone— the female “little death” (la petite mort femme)—
the potential to give life— gone.

Now the task isn’t your own children,
but grandchildren.

The Monthly Bloody Flow,
flows no more—
Adieu, God Bless.

* * * * *

Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.  Recently, she has been writing fiction (both short stories and poetry) on women’s and social justice issues.  To learn more about her work, see


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