poem in praise of menstruation

Clifton, Lucille

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Feb-01-2001
  • Last revised: Jan-07-2013


This poem builds by repetition to a climax: "if there is a river /more beautiful than this," if there is a river more faithful, braver, more ancient, more powerful. Each repetition begins a new stanza, a stronger stanza, ending finally in a prayer that, if there is such a river, it should flow "through animals / beautiful and faithful and ancient / and female and brave." (24 lines)


The poem builds from the ordinary experience of menstruation through a series of ever more ecstatic images. For the poet, menstruation is transformed into the mystical river that "flows through" and connects animals, human animals and other animals, in the great tide of life. See also to my last period by the same author. Other related poems in this database include First Menstruation (Ellen Bass) and Something to Look Forward To (Marge Piercy).

Primary Source




Place Published

Brockport, N.Y.