Issue 13 (2018): Blood


Can we talk about the cashier who is given a four-hour shift without a break? About the student who can’t leave the room during a three-hour exam? Can we talk about how displaced or homeless women can maintain dignity when society pretends periods just don't happen?


In the middle ages, a woman was not considered pregnant until the baby quickened. That means, until she felt movement. Before that first kick, women could do anything and it didn’t count—poisons, pessaries, jumping up and down. The medievals got up to all sorts of things.


Fast, so, so fast. Suddenly, his jacket was on the side of the road, and, in my poor muddled brain, he’d run so fast across the street that his jacket had flown off behind him, incredible! I ran ahead to pick it up. I remember his death so much more clearly than his life.

The Life of a Creature

A puppy. A German Shepherd, young enough that his ears are still flopped over. He has parvovirus. Liquid, bloody diarrhea squirts out of him, splattering everywhere, like the last bits of ketchup from an almost empty bottle. I hook up an IV, give him fluids, anti-emetics, antibiotics, but he dies anyway.

Bad Blood

The Keeper is a muddy-red-coloured rubber menstrual cup that looks like a metastasised pencil eraser. It wasn’t pretty. And it sure wasn’t cheap, either. Maybe $30—no small outlay of cash for a retail shift-scrounging early-‘90s undergrad; thirty bucks was more than my entire power bill back then.

Practice / Spirals

“A good job done,” and I agree as I pass the dainty mug patterned / with fruit that matches your kitchen wallpaper. I try but fail / to filter the sound in my head. It is the beginning of your breathlessness, / the sound that leads to the swish and gurgle of bedside pumps

Behind the Door

The ache wakes her, / her breasts so hard and tender. / Something wrong with the nipples. / How they pull inside her / when she’s cold / like fists. / If it isn’t breasts, it’s hips. / Femurs lengthen in the dark hours. / At times, she limps. / The socket no longer fits.

Sunset Over a Mosque in Quebec City

Even with faith we have no answers. We try to find /understanding through our shared rituals / of mourning and remembering: / a community clasps hands around a city block, / a gathering light candles to overcome what haunts us, / a family prepares to bury their loved ones.

Africa: An Apology

You were the defeated land, the place that had lost every battle. So please understand that a part of me also felt lost and defeated. I wanted to escape our connection, relinquish our relationship, cut all ties. Almost instantly, I removed you from my life. I told myself I wasn’t African.

Scars / Murmur

scars silence blood /shut up leaks and spills / stitch seams on skin / where none should be / scars silence blood /open up floods / of stories / word rivers, pouring out / from throat, bird voice / melody, telling and retelling / events that skin carries / in hues that pale away


You are the Mom-Friend. The Mom-Friend is always prepared for blood, though not in the warrior sense. Your friends laugh because you carry a first-aid-kit worth of tissues, menstrual pads and Band-Aids wherever you go. But they’re not laughing when they get paper cuts or when the blisters on their feet burst.

Mabel’s Fable

The doctor observed the baby lying in the palm of his hand. Said, “Best not to feed her. Just leave her on a pillow near the open window. She’s much too tiny to live through the night.” But the baby didn’t die. She grew into a woman who was small, but mighty.

Bringing Light to the Dark

My period arrived when I was fourteen, announcing our future together by settling into my pelvis on a nest of corroding nails. I spent days in bed every month, curled around a heating pad, wondering at the euphemism of “cramps” because what I felt was a deep, greedy, constant pain.

Blood and Vinegar

It happens as Al is walking home, her hands thrust deep into the pockets of her overcoat. Usually she is on her guard at such times, wary and aware, but tonight she is high on a night out with the old crowd—Sam, Jess, Billie, Little Jo, who’s just Jo now that Big Jo is gone.

Her Many Names

Grandmothers Ke-Che-Cho-Wick, Wash-e-Soo-E’Squew, / Kitty (Catherine), Sally and Catherine – / under the same moons as cousins, strangers, / the unnamed, notorious, ordinary, extraordinary, / your stations in life / both promise and threat; / The Bible, solace / and weapon; blood, the source / of strength and shame.

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