A NOTE TO THE READER:
Normally I write these moon poems during the lunation in question. I make notes throughout the month, and sometimes try to intend what will come through, but it’s always a surprise, and seldom what I hoped for or intended. Writing this way has been occasionally terrifying: it often pushes me into spaces of real risk: that I might violate or deform an intimate truth and thus do harm to very real and unfolding circumstances, that I might hurt someone I love, or someone I don’t know, that I might hurt myself by saying wrong what I scarcely know how to put into words. I think the whole attraction, for me, of poetry, is the idea of trying to say what can’t be said.
This month’s poem actually came to me ten days early, shortly before the solstice. A lover had said things to me, things I did not believe, that seemed to stimulate my menstrual cycle. Ten days early, this poem flooded out of me right as I started to bleed. It was somewhat embarrassing, and also undeniable, as I wrote, to recognize that in me somehow the poetic impulse seems to have yoked itself to my moon cycle, and that writing monthly for Artforum over the years has actually played an important role in this fusion.
I am not the first artist to notice a link between creativity and sexuality, but I will say I have not had enough to read, or artwork to look at, that testifies to a queer, femme, bloody virility, a menstrual consciousness that is not necessarily—and perhaps even necessarily NOT—about bringing children into the world, but rather, is somehow married to a different kind of bringing-forth.
This puts me, and therefore you, dear reader, in the odd circumstance of reckoning, on this Full Moon in Cancer, with the ways that I might also have, over the years, identified my own grief cycle too closely with what I have understood as womanhood. Perhaps the most powerful and most important love of my life to date was a trans poet of genius, and this very problem of mine—this clinging to the grief of my menstrual cycle as though it were my only true prize—it caused them great pain. That I understood my own womanhood so narrowly, it hurt them. I write about this in the poem. And when I read the poem, you can hear how this has hurt me too.
The overidentification with grief is a mistake. The notion that one’s deepmost pain defines one—it is a siren song I have been responding too, like a faithful dog, the whole length of my career. Readers of this column know that I write often of my mother and grandmother. Writing this poem made me realize that everything I’ve written up to now has been for them. My grandmother was a Cancer. The love of her life was gassed at Treblinka. My mother, whom many of you know has been mentally ill and often homeless since…
Read more:: Ariana Reines’s new moon report