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Menstruation,
the red current,
that time of the month,
dripping with red honey,
painting the town red,
riding the crimson wave,
a visit from Aunt Flo,
whatever name I call you,
I want you to know,
I hate you.

Now, now before you start crying
(no, seriously, I’m still drying
out from your last visit)
I must insist you hear me out.
It’s not about you personally,
It’s me.

Fuck it, I can’t lie, it’s you.
I remember the first time you showed your face,
it was in health class of all places,
and I rushed out to the bathroom
feeling utterly doomed and dismayed
too ashamed of what someone might say
to ask for a feminine product.
So I stuck a wad of toilet paper
in my underwear
and staggered back out there.

It took me several years to figure out how to stop you,
contain you, and I still can’t help but blame you
for every time I’ve checked the back of my pants for stains
for every basketball game you interrupted
for every eruption when I thought you were done
for every one of my underwear you destroyed
for every joy you turned to perpetual fear
for every tear your cramps brought full force
for every intercourse opportunity you blocked,
shall I go on?

Period, you embarrassed me one too many times
like when I first tried to insert a tampon
on that camping trip with my family
and, calamity of calamities,
I had to tell my mom I couldn’t get it in.
And instantly she asked me,
and I quote,
“Are you putting it in the right hole?”
Period, she asked me if I put it in the right hole!
How many holes are there?!
Do you know how terribly embarrassed you made me?
Even more than when she
made me talk about the birds and the bees!

Now, let me calm down
because somehow
someone will try to use my distressing
as an excuse to accuse me of PMSing.
And the only thing I hate more than PMSing
is someone accusing me of it.
It doesn’t matter if I actually am
because, dammit, that nonsense
is sexist and I will not stand for it.

And speaking of things I won’t stand for,
men who refuse to get me tampons from the store!
“Oh you’re embarrassed to be seen
with my feminine hygiene products?
You poor thing,
and here I thought I had it rough
having to shove said products up my crotch
about twenty times a month.”

And speaking of monthly,
you have to know how unfair and disparaging it is
to bleed out of my vagina
once a month for decades
on the off chance that I may one day have a baby.
Why can’t you just be like a kitchen sink
that I just turn on when I think
I want to become pregnant?
But no, that would be much too easy
and appeasing
and we both know you’re a tough woman.

But so am I, Period.
And I guess I owe some of that to you.
You taught me that blood
is a flood stronger
than most any force on earth.
You taught me that I am the earth
because the blood from my womb
is connected to the tides and the moon
and the wombs of other women.
When we live in close proximity
we begin to bleed in community,
a sisterhood of beauty,
synchronized and dignified
and ready to supply the next generation.
Women are the arbiters of creation,
and ain’t that some kind of power?

And, Period, I have to thank you
for reconnecting me to my body.
Oddly, I’ve separated the physical
from the emotional
from the mental
and it’s been detrimental to my health.
But you’ve brought me a wealth
of knowledge by showing me
that all things are cyclical
and that my cycle links me to something biblical
and holy.

You taught me that while I bleed
freely from my nether regions
enduring legions of cramps
and waves of nausea and tears
with fears of leaking on my clothing,
I can go out without anyone knowing
the fountains flowing within me.
That’s why women are a mystery,
a form of poetry,
we hold the secrecy,
of a thousand moons
within our wombs
and still do what we need to do
making it true that women are master jugglers
and multi-taskers.

And I have to ask,
why do we even call you Period?
There are a myriad of other punctuation marks
like comma or semi colon or parentheses,
any of these are much more fitting
because you are not an ending,
you are a beginning.

And I realize that you’re a force
that cannot be ignored,
a metaphor for the woman I want to be,
freely me, uncontained,
unconstrained, unashamed, untamed,
naming my truth and plotting my course
with a force so unstoppable,
it’s not possible to control.
Yes we find ways to hold you up,
like with my beloved Diva Cup,
but those are only temporary measures,
that you’re sure to get around
and find your way through.
And I guess what I’m trying to say to you
is that maybe the reason I fight you,
why I insist I don’t like you,
is that I am more like you
than I want to admit.
There, I said it.
I guess when it comes down to it,
we’re like sisters, you and I.
And that means we’ll fight and cry
and try as I might to deny you
you’re part of me.
After all, you and me, we
are related by blood.

 

Red ocean wave

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