We Have Always Done This

A poem by reproductive rights activist-poet Judith Arcana

Image credit: Fabric work and photo by Gwyn Kirk. https://gwynkirk.net/art. Used with permission.

We Have Always Done This

The moon rises, glowing silver-white.
The old woman watches it rise.
Standing in the grass of the meadow, looking up over the trees, she watches the moon rise.

On this night, for this moon, she is standing there.
She has been called to welcome the moon.
She has been called to talk with the young ones.

She will tell them: We have always known this; we have always done this.

Some have the skill in their hands.
Some grow the herbs. Some carry the tools.
Some chant, beat the drums, rock their bodies under the moon.

We do this now, she will tell them. We have always done this.
This is in our blood.
Our blood is in you, she tells the young ones.

We must know when to do this. We must know when not to do this.
Dream and dance and think, together.
Dream and dance and think, alone.

Ask the moon in her narrow crescent, and as she grows, rounding.
Answers will be luminous in the silver-white light of the moon.
Answers will be shadows in the moon’s dark time.

We can make life, and break it.
We tend life, and can end it.
Always, we ask: Is now the time for this life?

You will decide, she tells the young ones: Always, you will decide.


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Judith Arcana is a writer of stories, poems, essays and books -- and she’s a Jane, a member of Chicago’s pre-Roe abortion underground.  So of course she has written stories, poems, essays and books that feature abortion as a subject; visit juditharcana.com.

Photo credit: Holly Andres

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