11: The Moon is Always Female

The Moon is Always Female by Marge Piercy

The Moon is Always Female

Ack. I actually finished reading this ages ago. It’s been sitting on my desk looking at me for most of the summer, as a reminder to write a post about it. Meanwhile, I’ve been otherwise occupied reading books for my directed reading course (and by extension, my thesis). But that project is nearing completion, and it’s time for some just-for-fun reading to finish off the summer. Before starting something new, here are my two cents on The Moon is Always Female.

Marge Piercy is one of the poets I first came into contact with when reading The Norton Introduction to Literature when undoubtedly I should have been doing something else. Like reading that Poli Sci textbook I never realized I owned until an hour before the final exam. (The fact that I read the TNITL for fun should in itself have been a strong indication that I should have majored in English, but I was too busy cutting off my nose to spite my face at the time to realize this.) The poem was “To have without holding.” The first stanza (p. 40):

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

Heh. I just noticed the first comment under “Most Helpful Customer Reviews” at Amazon is from my close personal friend Eden. How apropos, since I picked this up when I saw it at my favorite used bookstore last summer because of the many times she’s mentioned it. Let’s see what she had to say:

Piercy’s poems in this collection touch my every emotion. They make me laugh, cry, consider, ache, scream and everything in the spaces between. I “had” to read this for a contemporary lit course in college over ten years ago. Problem was, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was the first book I couldn’t bring myself to sell back. It’s exceptional, from the words on the pages to the typeface itself. Favorite include: “For the young who want to” “For strong women” “Poetry festival lover” and of course “The moon is always female.” After reading it, you will feel like you know Piercy. And you will also better know yourself.

Hmm, thanks for doing my work for me, E! I’d also add that it’s the kind of collection that it’s nice to leave out where you can pick it up and randomly re-read a poem or two when the mood strikes you. “For the young who want to” is one of my favorite poems (by any poet) and I never tire of re-reading it. The last stanza (p. 85):

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.


4 thoughts on “11: The Moon is Always Female

  1. Eden

    Is “To have without holding” the one that has the line about being “curled like a shrimp” after sex? It’s so hard for me not to use that line.

    I’m also thinking of the one about the zucchini people bearing down on her with their surplus vegetables. A nice light one 😉

    They’re all so good. I’m glad you enjoyed it too. I find her poetry very inspiring in writing prose. Now I want to go read again 🙂

    Oh her collection “Mars and Her Children” has a poem that mentions my area, which floored me. Do you have that one?

  2. Theryn Post author

    No, but it does have “passionate diastole and systole.”

    Please take my zucchini! 😉

    This is my first all-Marge collection. I do have a novel of hers around here somewhere.

  3. Eden

    I tried a novel once but I didn’t like it. I sold it at the same yard sale as the Stephen King books. I got it from The Remainder Table anyway 😉

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