by Barbara Ruth

First of all
it is a mystery
like any miracle
but the words
tell you something.
They are never enough and they are often useful.

If your mother did not give
your menarche the honor it deserved
create the celebration now
as a Jew might make bat mitzvah in her thirties, in her sixties,
when she comes to call herself a woman.
Dedicate yourself to the Great Mother
unwrap your sacred body as though it was the Torah
make ritual whatever your belief, your race,
you are not alone.

If your father shamed you
read, speak with other women
you will learn
of fathers who steal childhood from their daughters
who prey upon their flesh and spirits
you can learn
long after you were broken
go inside yourself and find the way to heal.
Take your soul and body back
for they are yours, no matter what was done to you.
You are not alone.

If a stranger rapes you
scream fury
curse him
hold yourself so close, so tenderly
repeat a million times
“I am alone. I am alive. I am alive.”
You are not alone.

If your lover rapes you
track him down
shout into his face, “You hurt me! You had no right!”
Graffiti rapist on the sidewalk
where he lives, where he works
Remember, you are not alone.

If your lover will not touch you
the way you want
cry and cry and cry
breathe and look into her eyes
make a choice
to go on with her, and love yourself
no matter what.
Know you are not alone.

If your lover will not touch you
the way you want
find another lover
touch her
the way she wants
know that it is all one love.
You are not alone.

If your lover will not touch you
the way you want
decide to have no lover but yourself
touch yourself gingerly, insistently, luxuriantly.
Touch yourself with divine perfection.
Angels will fly to your bed
you will not be alone.

If you do not want to make love
plant a garden
write a novel
find a cure for what is not yet healed.
Know that you are perfect
as you do any or none of these.
Know that you are not alone.

Anger heals.
Telling heals.
Ritual heals.
Forgiveness heals.
Masturbation heals.
Celibacy heals.
Lovemaking heals.
Meditation heals.
Writing heals.

if you are wounded in this holy fragile place of sex
and you have not yet found healing
you have survived yesterday, and all the yesterdays before,
this itself is miracle.
Tomorrow there will be possibilities
today does not know.
the wound itself may lead you home.
You are not alone.


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