This selection, chosen by guest editor Amber Alexander, is from Stained: An Anthology of Writing About Menstruation, curated and edited by Rachel Neve-Midbar & Jennifer Saunders, released by Querencia Press in 2023.
premenstrual dysphoric disorder
by Leila Tualla
There is a silent chaos that follows me, shadowing my movements and biding its time. It manifests quietly, slowly gathering its power. I can feel myself leaving for a moment before this version of me slips through the cracks and comes alive. I succumb to her power, leaving nothing but tears and fire in our wake. She is passion; blindly going on instinct and fueled by turmoil. She is my shame, my guilt, my walking nightmare; A monthly companionable adversary and a savior I can call by name. Our foundation is built on her intensity, and as the moon shifts back into the shadows, I surrender to this phase. She slips away, leaving me exhausted and wounded. A few more days of rest, a few more moments of clarity, a few more rounds of daylight, before a scream is uncurled, refusing to be held back and sorrow pierces through my fragile defenses that she emerges out of the shadows and takes her place once more.
Leila Tualla is a Filipino-American poet and author based in Houston, TX. Leila’s books include YA contemporary romance Love, Defined, and Letters to Lenora. She has a memoir/poetry collection called Storm of Hope: God, Preeclampsia, Depression and Me. Leila’s poetry has been featured in several mental health anthologies and she is an outspoken advocate for maternal mental health and PMDD. Her chapbook PMDD & me is out now. Leila is currently working on a full poetry collection on Asian American identities.
Poet, essayist, and translator Rachel Neve-Midbar‘s collection Salaam of Birds (Tebot Bach, 2020) was chosen by Dorothy Barresi for the Patricia Bibby First Book Prize. She is also the author of the chapbook What the Light Reveals (Tebot Bach, 2014), winner of The Clockwork Prize. Rachel’s work has appeared in journals such as Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, Grist, and The Georgia Review as well as other publications and anthologies. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California where her research concerns menstruation in contemporary poetry.
Jennifer Saunders is the author of Self-Portrait with Housewife (Tebot Bach, 2019), winner of the 2017 Clockwise Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Glass, Spillway, The Shallow Ends, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere, and has earned nominations for Best of the Net, The Pushcart Prize, and the Orison Anthology. Jennifer holds an MFA from Pacific University, and lives in German-speaking Switzerland.
Amber Alexander, who publishes creative work as e. holloway, is a poet based in Ohio. They currently work in higher education and as an Assistant Editor for Best Of The Net within Sundress Publications. Alexander is a former Editorial Intern for Sundress Publications, former Editorial Board Member for Cornfield Review, and was a Sundress Academy for The Arts Writing Resident in 2023. Their work has been published by Cornfield Review and earned multiple awards during undergrad at The Ohio State University.
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