The Theft of Childbirth

Childbirth has nowhere been regarded merely as one possible event in a woman’s life. The Hebrews saw in women’s travail the working of “Eve’s curse” for tempting Adam to the Fall. The Romans called it poena magna—the great pain. But poena also means punishment, penalty. Whether as a “peak event” …

The Anti-Feminist Woman

This book is harmless, predictable, and sad. Like much ad hoc journalism, it is shallow, because the writer has set out to label and destroy a developing phenomenon like the women’s movement rather than to reflect on the needs and conflicts that generated it. Midge Decter’s writing lacks any sense …

The Case for a Drop-out School

Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is a harsh streak of downtown-rushing traffic edged by project housing, high-rise urban development apartments, Spanish grocerias, bodegas, and bars, empty lots bull-dozed for new developments, condemned storefronts, and apartments with boarded and tinned-over entrances and broken windows. To the east …

The Mirror in Which Two Are Seen As One

VOICE FROM A SKULL (Futami-ga-ura, Ise-Shima. For Peter Watson) I Here, where the Pacific seems a pond, Winds like pocket knives have carved out islands From sandstone, to netsuke:— Pekingese, With rampant ruffs and fan-spread claws, Scratch at coiff’d waves. A pirate junk …

The Demon Lover

“…why do women never want to write poetry about Man as a sex,—why is Woman a dream and a terror to man and not the other way around?…Is it mere convention and propriety…?” —Jane Harrison to Gilbert Murray Fatigue, regrets. The lights go out in the parking lot, …

In the Woods

“Difficult ordinary happiness,” no one nowadays believes in you. I shift, full-length on the blanket to fix the sun precisely behind the pine-tree’s crest so light spreads through the needles alive as water just where a fish has surfaced, unreal …

The Corpse-Plant

A milk-glass bowl hanging by three chains from the discoloured ceiling is beautiful tonight. On the floor, leaves, crayons, innocent dust foregather. Neither obedient nor sick, I turn my head feeling the weight of a thick gold ring in either lobe. I see …

Poetry

When a man writes of himself as a hero, the question is whether he can write heroically. It takes enormous force of temperament, the pressure of an enormously spirited life, to make poems that can fulfill the condition. The poems of a prophet may be biographically interesting as his private …