A Room of Her Own for the Season



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?

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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.

I wanted.

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


“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

“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

Cimmerian Sister by Kristi Crutchfield Cox, “Comfort Women” poetry and art collaboration with 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

parades, and I cried. And the vacuumed silence in my head

popped. And one day a window in my heart opened and I crawled out.

I’m a single mom and though I work three jobs (one at state university) I am low-income.  My poem outlines what it was like being the daughter of closeted lesbians, unable to speak my/our truth in public. I seek a room that is not a closet but has windows. – Elizabeth A.I. Powell

Author: A Room of Her Own

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