On my twelfth natal day I woke up in a pool of my own blood.
Happy Birthday to me.
I am declared “woman”
but it doesn’t fit, so I keep it to myself.
Mother asking, “Why are my tampons missing?”
“I didn’t tell you because it’s not a big deal.”
(I don’t want to be seen as sexually viable)
Stop making it a big deal.
It’s hiding the girly pink packaging up my sweatshirt sleeve,
and frantically blending my crimson shame
into the tacky orange polypropylene during seventh grade choir.
The lingering evidence matching the hue of my cheeks.
As I grow I learn its power,
Making my male teachers uncomfortable
so they’ll write me passes
to loiter in the halls.
It was the perfect excuse for what I did not yet understand.
Those weeks in which body became anvil
& my pillow soaked in salty mascara.
“How many weeks does this PMS thing last anyway?
Then there was the time it disappeared altogether;
Signifying my condition was worse than I believed.
This erasure of blood gave prominence to my bones,
a small price for the ecstasy of nothingness.
Eventually I healed, and my womanly gift returned.
Until the night of my red scare:
A blur of red solo cups, unconscious on that maroon couch
My ruby see-through top, and cerise lips
(He called them DSL -dick sucking lips- if I recall)
An obvious invitation.
Weeks later the appearance of a copper stain,
& a rush of relief, and a foolish belief, that it was all over.
The fear lingered.
Inspired the purchase of those little white pills,
estrogen, progesterone, so many hormones and admonitions
All with a promise of freedom: Slut Insurance.
But, alas, I am reckless.
One unintentional cognitive dismissal, &
a month of pure menstruation.
My skin turned to pallor, anemia.
So I ditched the pills and bathed in La Luna.
The euphoria of a red moon cycle consumed me.
Shaman. High Priestess. Healer.
I became all, reclaiming and reconciling what I once hid.