Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Poem Made for Menopause

What’s that Smell in the Kitchen?

All over America women are burning dinners.
It's lambchops in Peoria; it's haddock
in Providence; it's steak in Chicago
tofu delight in Big Sur; red
rice and beans in Dallas.
All over America women are burning
food they're supposed to bring with calico
smile on platters glittering like wax.
Anger sputters in her brainpan, confined
but spewing out missiles of hot fat.
Carbonized despair presses like a clinker
from a barbecue against the back of her eyes.
If she wants to grill anything, it's
her husband spitted over a slow fire.
If she wants to serve him anything
it's a dead rat with a bomb in its belly
ticking like the heart of an insomniac.
Her life is cooked and digested,
nothing but leftovers in Tupperware.
Look, she says, once I was roast duck
on your platter with parsley but now I am Spam.
Burning dinner is not incompetence but war.
--Marge Piercy

Just as T. S. Eliot’s “Prufrock” character ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock") measured out his life in coffee spoons, Piercy’s speaker measures her life with Tupperware leftovers. Sometimes you’re the roast duck—others you’re the Spam. Relationships and aging are not for the cowardly. Men, be very afraid.


  1. I burnt dinner last night. Salvaged it. But man, multitasking can be dangerous for menopausal women, xo

    1. Ha-ha Karen, waging a little war were we now? Thank goodness our men are on our side in this battle. I've reached the stage where I have to tell myself "do NOT walk away from the stove to do 'one little thing'"or else the stove top is a mess with boiled over goop!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Mel. It's great!

    1. I have tried several times to reply to you, Miss Sophie's Mom, and my internet has been giving me heck! Thanks for reading-- I promise not to ever serve Phillip a rat, BTW.

  3. Hadn't seen that poem before! Really powerful. I remember feeling like that towards the end of my marriage! I just bought her book, "Woman on the Edge of Time" for Kindle.

    1. I love that I can read poems through the years and see them differently at different phases in my life. Now you've made me want to get that book, too! What an intriguing title. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Yep. That darn menopause makes us do all sorts of crazy things. I don't know what I'd do without the Promensil. The red clover keeps my red blood from boiling -- most of the time!

    1. I thought I knew what to expect in menopause, Doreen. Boy, was I wrong! Women are nothing short of incredible to get through this change. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Too funny, I burned the drumsticks on the grill the other night and couldn't figure out why!

  6. This is funny! I should share this to my mom :D Thanks

  7. Thanks for sharing! Perimenopause is your reproductive system slowly winding down over 10 to 15 years, in anticipation of menopause, the end of your childbearing years. (“Peri” means around and “menopause” means cessation of monthly periods).

    Hope you find this article useful too