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Ode to Womanhood

By Irving Gamboa

Editor's Note: Due to the formatting of this poem, it is best viewed on a desktop browser.

Ext. Cave in Willendorf, dimly lit by a fire.

The camera focuses on the fire: entrancing cascading amber waves dancing in the middle of

darkness. We hear a strange sound, the sound of a repetitive motion like the muffled pounding of flesh. Moans, howling.

The camera zooms out slowly and tracks focusing on the ground where we see fractured bones, fruits, roots, nuts, and a shadow moving back and forth frantically: the moaning and howling echo through the darkness.

The camera tilts up: we see a naked man whose body is covered in mud and scars. The camera moves around him and we see that the man is masturbating. Moving up, we see his face in delirious ecstasy. The camera pans and we see the beautiful natural pattern of the stone walls within the cavern; water cascading down the walls in dream-like rhythm: the camera tracks the wall, and slowly pans down until we see the object of sexual infatuation.

The Venus of Willendorf.

The beautiful statue stands atop a small mud mound, caressed by the tender movement of the flames, casting strange shadows upon the wall.


The tender darkness of safety fades

Slowly as the great sky fire above

Begins to tremble from the far away

Land that we do not know,

Light seeps and touches the ground

And the entrance of our dwelling place

Becomes a mouth from which we must

Return to the place where everything is,

There are no names for things yet,

Morning and night and time

Are not yet codified by their elusive duration

But rather by intrinsic instinct:

“Blades of grass the same hue as

The head of a tree

Touch the feet roughly

Unlike the softness of the hair tree

Upon the hand:

Sharp stone the color of rain clouds

Make pain rush to the hand

If one is not careful

And help end the movement of beasts

To end danger or make meal

When thunder grows in gut:

Sky fire moves through ocean above

And water never falls

Unless the white mountains

Darken and rumble

When bright white snakes

Appear and roar

Only to disappear

There's awe in watching

The way winged beasts swim

In ocean above

As when they fall

To the place where we walk

Their movement does not end

And they aren’t wet

The way we are covered in water

When we enter oceans below”

... the man sat patiently behind a small bush, speared firmly gripped by a calloused hand; his eyes fixed upon a herd of red deer drinking water from a shallow riverbank in total stillness.

The man signaled with a simple gesture and moved forward with a group of younger individuals; naked bodies with muddied feet moving in fierce rhythm towards the riverbank.

The startled deer scattered through the vast field of tall grass; muffled groans converged with the sounds of bodies rushing through the grass and savage feet stomping the moist soil.

Several Spears pierced flew through the air in unison like a stream of darkened wood searching for the same target.


All motion and sound seized congruously.

The hunters gathered and stood in a small circle, witnessing a shivering deer nestled against

crimson stained grass. They uttered a fearful howl in unison, thrusting the successful Spears with precision.

Extinguishing the life force of a deer, not fully understanding the process of death, a ritualistic interpretation of taking something from the Earth from which it sprouted, the Hunters paint their bodies with blood, breaking the unsuccessful Spears and leaving them behind upon the very same place where their hunt collapsed.

Dusk descends like a crimson curtain above, the evening winds brush against the leaves of the trees like a roaring ocean.

Naked feet rush back towards safety, bringing back food for the others who await huddled

around a fire with anxious hunger.

Night falls and the sounds of darkness reclaim the vast fields and the Earth.

The only sound that signifies safety is the robust crackling voice of the fire: casting shadows, as meticulous hands imprint a precise impression of the events that took place earlier that day.

The Womb:

(Smoke that blackens on a cave wall

Makes shapes as suggestive as clouds in the air above when we hunt and forage

But firm where clouds are drifting and shifting

Nights when thunder and lashing rain are too hostile

No skein of stars visible above us

The lip of the cave shelters

The deep of the cave hides our past and future

Picture galleries moving,

The first ever made by human hand

Beyond our perfect ken and

Smoke shapes, cloud shapes that mimic the world we walk through daily

The storage place of past and future)


In this stark emptiness

Hands stained blue with caustic dye

Wrapped around a blade

Like a garland of cerulean warblers

Leading the choir of the abattoir

A fruit with the taste of blood

Plucked before it ripens

Like a storm of withered wild roses:

Your name written on stone

On the walls that lead to the gates

Of the garden where feathers grow fearful and free,

Guarded by Translucent arches

Under the bulbed canopy above

Where vague forms move against the light:

It is a moment outside of space and time:

Where we come from

And where we return to

Once the brightness reaches a point

Of spectacular culmination

Only to implode into the vast darkness

That surrounds, shelters and nourishes

All the memories that have yet to take place:

In this stark emptiness,

A void that is either too bright

Or too dark to be deciphered,

It’s neither cold nor warm,

But the perfect temperature of arrival and departure:

The precise moment of mystery

Is unimaginable

Like having a bonfire in the plateau of outer space:

We wonder if we might be dreaming

But there’s never a time to be awake:

Because We know that time is always time

and place is always and only place.

And what is actual is actual only for one time. And only for one place.


We rejoice things as they are:

We take our child for a walk

And witness a small avian carcass

Flattened crimson upon the ground,

Feathers still rustling in the breeze,

And the first understanding of death

Becomes present:

Ode to womanhood:

This sinuous Earth reverberates

Like an echo whose sound

Has not yet returned

To its point of origin:

Sentences whose bloody phonology

Is not rooted in language:

But rather an ensemble

Of primordial desperate clamor:

Intrinsic admiration

For hallowed objects

And phenomena

That are yet to be contained

In the landscape of rationality

Through the codification

Of name and classification:














A mother-figure collecting

grasses, tubers, fruits, and seeds,

Instructing the younger generation:

A sudden anxious gasp

Disturbs the collective silence

Of the female gatherers:

Incapable of expressing

Her frightened discovery,

A young woman whimpers and shrieks,

Pointing at the crimson-stained thicket

Upon which she stands:

The murmur of collective surprise

Unifies, becoming a cacophony

Of condemning fear:

The group of younger women

Form a circle Around the surprised woman

in silent unison,

Instinctively driven by the

Primitive intuition of abhorrent fear:

Ready to attack and slaughter

Their sister as her menstrual flux

Cascades down her trembling thighs

Onto the cool shivering viridescent

Ground below her:

The mother-figure raises her arms

With a sense of protective authority

And her thunderous howl

Petrifies the young women

In confused stillness:

Fearfully poised like a newborn fawn,

The young woman

Lowers her head in a thankful

And submissive manner,

Her arms wrapped around her

Upper body, as if attempting

To cover her body in Shame.

The mother-figure kneels in front of

The young woman,

Gently running her index and middle fingers over The blood stained grass:

She brings both fingers

Up to her nose,

And inhales the scent;

She spreads the girls legs

With both hands whilst

Kneeling down,

Slowly moving her bloodstained

Hand inwards,

Leaving the imprint of her calloused

Hands upon virgin alabaster thighs:

The mother-figure stood up,

Raising both hands towards the sky:

There was a moment of brief silence,

Followed by a loud, sharp piercing

Cry of victory:

The young women

Followed reluctantly:

Wailing in unison like a savage sisterhood

Surrounded by the vast green ocean of the wilderness:

The young woman was welcomed into womanhood,

Not understanding exactly what

Took place in that fragment of time:

Without the obfuscation of language,

They understood the significance

Of this strange experience:

Dusk arrived unannounced,

Like a crashing wave

Of undulating amber and lavender

Light ebbing towards the horizon,

Engulfing the dying western sun,

Crested with scattered clusters

of lilac clouds;

The last Streaks of light

Fall like a golden veil,

As the gathering women

Return home in solemn silence,

Unified through a new experience:

The sacred mystery of womanhood.


Irving Gamboa is a Mexican immigrant living in Chicago. He’s also an experimental filmmaker and Chicago Public School teacher. He loves black metal and wishes he could time travel to drink whiskey with Octavio Paz.

You may find Irving on Instagram and Vimeo.


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