The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

Penis Envy
By Erica Jong

I envy men who can yearn
with infinite emptiness
toward the body of a woman,

hoping that the yearning
will make a child,
that the emptiness itself
will fertilize the darkness.

Women have no illusions about this,
being at once
houses, tunnels,
cups & cupbearers,
knowing emptiness as a temporary state
between two fullnesses,
& seeing no romance in it.

If I were a man
doomed to that infinite emptiness,
& having no choice in the matter,
I would, like the rest, no doubt,
find a woman
& christen her moonbelly,
madonna, gold-haired goddess
& make her the tent of my longing,
the silk parachute of my lust,
the blue-eyed icon of my sacred sexual itch,
the mother of my hunger.

But since I am a woman,
I must not only inspire the poem
but also type it,
not only conceive the child
but also bear it,
not only bear the child
but also bathe it,
not only bathe the child
but also feed it,
not only feed the child
but also carry it
everywhere, evertwhere...

while men write poems
on the mysteries of motherhood.

I envy men who can yearn
with infinite emptiness


This is the poem I mentioned when I was talking about Neruda's "Night on the Island" a couple of days ago, though it plays on the conceit of woman as vessel/cupbearer/receptacle/muse in much older poetry than Neruda's. Wish I had known it while I was struggling simultaneously in college with H.D. and with my phenomenally sexist Chaucer professor.

boxer_ferret, who feeds my Russell cravings, pointed to this Hollywood Reporter article about how Crowe may star in a film based on Murray Bail's Eucalyptus. I love that novel. I discovered it, embarrassingly enough, standing in a bookstore flipping through Bernhard Schlinck's The Reader, about which I was hesitating about for the idiotic reason that it was an Oprah book (I've loved some Oprah books, disliked some Oprah books, not read the vast majority of Oprah books and I think Jonathan Franzen is an asshole). The woman next to me said, "Try this one," and handed me Eucalyptus, which is one of those stories about telling stories; I had some issues with the sexual politics but the conceit, about a woman who can only marry a man who can name every eucalyptus tree, is lovely.

And now I must abandon ashinae, Snape and Lupin (who are naked no less) because my mistress gblvr has summoned me to lunch, and like a good minion, I must obey. Back soon!

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