The change: some notes from the field (Tricia Dearborn)

Perimenopause as a chance to get a few things off my mother’s chest

my mother and I are not alike
in temperament or constitution

though at twelve she told me (ruefully) I had her thighs
and at sixteen a stranger in a shop

spoke my mother’s maiden name
asked was I her daughter

why do I find her grievances now curled under my tongue
her rage surging down my arms

my mother marched off
to bash the pans in the kitchen while she cooked

I storm off many times, returning
to speak and speak my dissatisfactions

which I hear and recognise as hers (neglect, lack of appreciation)
my mother threatened to throttle us

when we misbehaved
she didn’t, she throttled herself

and now I speak it

Perimenopause as rocket science

you know
the instant of ignition
because it feels like you’re standing

directly under those roaring jets
no way out now
you’re strapped in

pointed towards
the blue
that will become a coruscating dark

let’s hope you can handle
some solid g’s
as you take off

another layer, sweating
on your trajectory
to an undiscovered world

Perimenopause as the weather at sea

gone is the swell
the long slow bodily knowledge
of tides and patterns
conditions are choppy out on the water
storms blow up from nowhere

Perimenopause as uncertainty and invitation

you never know when you’re due
you never know whether

it’s the weather, or you
rhythms of thirty years’ standing 

begin to stretch, compress
to split at the seams

through the gaps
stream questions, angers, revelations

nail polish in a shade of blue
you never dared

a frankness
you never dared

a mission
should you choose to accept it

to take no shit
for the rest of your life


Tricia Dearborn’s poetry has been widely published in literary journals including Meanjin, Southerly, Overland and HEAT, and in anthologies such as Australian Poetry Since 1788, The Best Australian Poems 2012 and 2010 and Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets. A featured reader at many events, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2012, Tricia was joint winner of the 2008 Poets Union Poetry Prize. She has degrees in biochemistry and arts, worked briefly in a research laboratory and now earns a living as a freelance editor. Her most recent collection of poetry is The Ringing World, published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2012.