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 words and art and truth.
“Her Hands in Bloom” by Liz Asch
I am her. She is me. We are folded in a collective She. This girl. Risen up like a flower in a brown potato field. Fields of Russia. Poland. Germany. Austria-Hungary. Jewess. My daughter, my ancestor, my lover, my grandmother. The bright shape of her wafts through each blackened shtetl. Where she sleeps in a cotton gown on a straw bed, dreaming she is a sylph caught in the river’s current. The candles of the sky shine on her. Dollbaby. Poet. A father’s daughter. Have you seen my girl, such beautiful hands!
Our baby, whispered over her, each time, fingers tracing the felt-like fur fringing her newborn ears. The soft collar of fuzz that trails up her neck as she grows. Wispy strands elongate from her temples, brow, nape. Her head’s thick blanket fingered into braids, tucked in a bonnet for sleep, wavy as a waterfall by day. Dark curls brushed in a high basket or left unruly and wild, pinned low at her shoulders. Wet tendrils like serpents tamed into domesticity, hypnotizing a woman’s back. Just to be there, to be allowed, to touch her skin, to run down the river of her spine.
This Jewess, my ancestor, when the air flickers around me like shabbos candles, it is her hands, shadow-birds, freed in an act of consecration, that I feel. Ephemeral, silent, made of her fingers, the only shadows allowed to dance—to unlock their wings, to reach.
We, the women in my lineage, we don’t tell our secrets, we hide them in our mouths. They soften to pulp within us. Our bodies are dark nights. Our throats are the tunnel where the moon rises, it waxes in our wombs. A beam of light searching a galaxy. Oh, mystery!
Breathe it. Whisper it. Write it. Swallow.
Would that we could wander, were we not domesticated by the family’s yoke, by a rope of a ring around a finger, by society’s glare, by the fences staked around our breasts, our hips, our thighs.
Strands of her hair fallen into her undershirt, wasted on her bedsheets, dusting the floor, snaked through her comb. Tufts of her hair tucked behind the outhouse gifted to the birds. Blood matted in wads of cotton between her legs, rusting behind the pleats of her skirt.
What you tell Mama, what you don’t.
Our stories are buried under layers of dirt, cotton, and wool. Our truths cinched at the waist. Laced in a nightgown. Wrapped in a housecoat. In a slip. In stockings and ribbons. Belted. Tied tight. Tucked into rows of buttons. Stitched shut in a dress.
These are our words.
I wasn’t. I went.
Dancer. Painter. Poetess. Actress. Playwright. Essayist. Dressmaker. Made Woman. Made Wife. Made Mother. She whose breasts bloom into flowers. She whose hips shimmer an oxbow. Her tresses a forest. Her fingernails are the hardbacks of beetles. Her irises culled from the wings of moths. Earth’s dirt sacrament between her legs. Wisteria wound round her ribcage.
Jewess. Sephardic. Ashkenazi. Levite. Emigrant. Refugee. Survivor. Daughter. Mother. Sister. Lover. Truthteller.
I know the feeling of her skin under my palm. I know the feeling of her breath on the back of my neck. I know the feeling of her hands in my hair. I know the feeling of her body as it gives.
I am a Jewish American queer woman born in 1976 and raised in the South. I came of age in NYC where I studied poetry and filmmaking and worked in the arts. I live in Oregon now with my son where I work as an acupuncturist and practice salutary storytelling. – Liz Asch
“The Path” by Karyna Aslanova
I’m Kyiv-born Ukrainian multimedia artist, director and photographer, I use video, painting, and poetry to further my exploration into a multitude of subjects. My works often use other-worldly imagery to reflect modern social issues, with a vague but familiar base note perceptible through a haze of the strange and incongruous. – Karyna Aslanova
“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