Lamentations of a Bacchant in Menopause

by Isabella Diaz Pascual | August 1, 2023

Venues for orgies are low in demand
Since the Cadmean press last shut us down
Dionysus has turned grapes to Pinot Noir
And belladonna to bumps.
This week’s sacrifices are speed-laced
Though we heralds of the Bacchae proclaim:
What Theban dynasties thundered against
Now enjoyed on a day in late April
Against a backdrop of tracksuited minors
Or Berghain buzzcuts
Or as a nightcap for old husbands
Anointing their freckled baldness
I miss when we would crack them open
The screaming skulls of kings
Kinder surprise, fingers dipping like soldiers.

I even miss the bacchanalia
Of a quiet hot-womb pulsing
And the burn of chilli sweat
When Demeter would pump me with helium,
Till I’d swell to gibbon size
And float

Then, all ripe, I’d burst
Spill my guts out into swimming pools and shower floors
There is blood in the water
To make daytrippers shriek
I have clotted every ladies’ room

Flushed dithyrambs down sewer pipes
Or into that mysterious realm
Where poo goes on a plane
I have inked red-letters onto 100% cotton
(And this to my mother’s dismay)
And still I had so much left to say

When you publish in blood
How the agony
Sucks you dry
Knocks you black
Crescents back
So you writhe like game
In the grip of your girlhood
Before you return to nothing.

Now I am tired
And kindling poorly;
The orgies came rehearsed, then desultory
– who comes best at room temperature?
My bones crack like air pockets
Between the knuckles of a tyrant
Engaged in baritonal dialogues,
Cricking as I revel like

And observe my wet entrails.
Signs of drought, croak the augurs,
The maenad breathes again:
I have bartered all my blood
And in silence, reap ends. ∎

Words by Isabella Diaz Pascual. Art by Isabel Otterburn-Milner.