During this season, we understand how full these festive and holy times can be; may the women’s voices and art shared here be a warm beacon. This is one way we make room for ourselves and for each other.
Do you have a room of your own?
Submit your creative response/work for possible publication with AROHO. Find the “submit” button on this page.
Enjoy these creative women’s submissions for the season.
“The Space I Wish I Had” by Sandra Cox
A room of my own
I crave I want to create
I need mine own space
These words evoke such forceful images. Space, windows; drawers and cabinets and shelves
and bins. Supplies for all my elcectic needs: camera, SD cards, computer; piano, books, paper,
wood, pyrography pens, books, pens, pencils, brushes, easels. And most important of all, I need
a strong door with a strong lock and a sign that reads: Uninvited Guests Enter at Your Own
I will have praise music playing. I will dance and sing and create. I will let my creativity flow
from my brain to my fingertips until it glows on everything in my space.
My room is space and peace. It is a medium awaiting my creativity. Take a deep breath. Smell
that? It is creativity waiting to explode, to become.
Do I have a creative space of my own? No. For now, I create wherever I am.
I am an Eclectic Artist. If it interests me, I can do it. I am ADHD and Dyslexic. It is an amazing, frustrating combination that took most of my life to appreciate. I know my creativity comes from the Great Creator. I was raised in Brazil. I am trilingual.
– Sandra Cox
“Nellie” by Shizue Seigel
I am a third-generation Japanese American writer, visual artist, and community activist who explores complex intersections of history, culture, and spirituality through prose, poetry, and visual art.
– Shizue Seigel
“Cimmerian Sister” by Kristi Crutchfield-Cox for “Comfort Women” poetry collection by Tanya Ko Hong
It is an energy and mindset for me to share spaces with others. In 2017, an AROHO sister invited me to participate as a visual artist with her work, “Comfort Women.”
Find “Cimmerian Sister” by Kristi Crutchfield-Cox in collaboration with Tonya Ko Hong’s poetry collection published here.
Find more on the “Kipp Crutchfield” Artist’s Gift of Fellowship and $300 stipend here.
“Escape” by Elizabeth A.I. Powell
We lived in a small rent controlled closet.
I was the daughter of lesbians.
There were bats in the attic studying our ellipses.
One flew down like a miniature Lucifer
stuck in a dark dress made of silky pataguim.
I was closeted with them and their silence.
They said: Stay inside
They said: We are not lesbians.
The air smelled of cedar, ashtrays, freezer burn,
long hot summer. I used to play hide and seek,
but it was an easy place to be found,
and you could get locked in. It was not
like some wardrobes where you can find
something out by going in.
Other times it was like a womb. Be quiet,
they said, father might never send a check again,
mother might lose her job. Sometimes it felt quiet
as a long pause when a story ends about a mother never known
just before bedtime. A strangely comforting
silence filled with missed points, three wishes, soup kettles.
I kept the night inside, twisted it like a Rubik’s cube,
so I could better understand the light.
Like after the drunk neighbor got hold of me
When the sun was too high in the sky and I was
Never the same. Sometimes I traced my pencil
In my Fabulous Book of Mazes over and over
looking for exits from dead-end corridors.
Mother was proficient at California walk-ins,
White hatboxes, plastic shoeboxes, clothing
bags that hung with fancy hotel names and crests.
The creases of slacks sharp, the perfumed scent of sporty blazers,
I searched drawers lined with lavender, found instamatic photos
of oceans I was not invited to. I don’t know why. My mother,
her girlfriend and her kids secretly went to the Sound
while I was left home watching my sister and brother
for interminable days without a phone number
or forwarding address. We pretended
it was an ‘80s Escape Room game.
What happens when your Daddy poem
Is about your mother?
I lived as a Madame Alexander doll
Taken out to act correctly.
Before this, other 70s mothers exposed their frilly white panties
from under their tennis skirts as was the fashion.
My mother beat them 40 Love.
She was barred. She looked like Billie Jean
King of the tennis court. Shunned, I thought
because I was bad, mean to my sister, not polite
to my elders, or how I had tried to read
the “Exorcist.” We went visiting on days off.
Midcentury modern, tree lined,
I was eight at my classmate’s house:
While there our mother’s disappeared
and my friend showed me her father’s Joy
of Sex and went outside. I clamored
around the house’s hallways, opened a door
My mother and her mother in bed. No one
said a word, I shut the door.
She pretended I didn’t see.
She pretended subtext-plus-shut-up was truth.
There were no angels in our house
only demons and ripped wallpaper stained with cat pee.
Whatever I saw, she said I didn’t see.
Later, my lovers would gaslight me,
that was the legacy. I believed the opposite. How my mothers used
perfumery to tell tales about faraway places with exotic lives.
How can I make this be a feminist text?
The oppressed Lesbian mother should be the hero.
I looked at women from time to time but it was no use.
I felt nothing. I felt like a disappointment.
We were living in a reticence made of angel/ monster
dichotomy. I became the mad one.
I had anxiety of authorship so long. One summer
I was let out of the secret, sent upstate to her mother’s farm.
I had my own stanchion there with the old cow
Alice, on the urine-soaked hay that gave me a love
for ruinous colognes. For a pillow, Alice’s mighty belly
where I’d listen to the wisdom of her sacred gurgles
during the milking hour at twilight, the time
mother’s girlfriend called “L’Heure Blue.”
I could leave the stanchion anytime I wanted,
Into the world inseminated with the scent of grass
And grain, warm milk, betadine solution on udders
the sweet sting of alp alpha, the sensual world
of linden tree. I was here, out on good behavior
to this place my mother hated. Heifers jailed in a pen.
Later, she got another place in the city with her secret wife,
left us sixty miles away in the old closet. I was in charge,
used laundry quarters for Kit-Kat bars for dinner.
She’d come back on Tuesday/Thursdays nights,
take us for pizzaburgers. The silence was the gag rule,
for which there was no Heimlich.
She was just mother’s friend.
In an escape room you have to figure out
what in the room is a clue. In college, we talked
for days about Jane Eyre and attics. We played “Clue”
in a lounge with windows. I know how the need
To solve for X starts to influence how you perceive
Reality and the resulting adrenaline can be fabulous.
Why look for places to escape from? The room is not
a puzzle, it is a container for the puzzle. Back at the closet,
I was a glass bottle of perfumed silence
in an ornate box made of The Lavender Scare. My mother
and her girlfriend never abandoned their city apartment
until they were carried out on long white stretchers
where their bodies continued to hold that silence
like a library. And after a long time, I saw free children
in the park playing with their two mothers, marching in freedom