By Kali Nelson
The blood is thick and red
It reflects myself back at me in an angry red
It suddenly smells like a fish market on a hot day
I think my cheeks are as red as the blood on my underwear.
My stomach hurts, I think I may be dying.
Is it hot in here or is it just me?
I don’t open my legs for fear the smell will come out.
The paranoia seems to haunt me now,
Can they smell this? Do they know?
Oh, God I hope not.
My period is here, I am only eleven.
Is it going to be like this forever? This pain? Why does is it so painful?
“The pain isn’t that bad, stop being a baby” my stepmom tells me. In time, I can’t tell if I’ve tricked myself or if I was blessed with light cramps.
“You’re a woman now, act like it” I am eleven, why must I be the lady now but my boys my age do not have to be?
But I will be silent no longer,
I can’t escape this red terror, so why be ashamed.
This is my body, my life
Why should I be ashamed of something that has happened for centuries?
I will not be shamed into silence, I have no shame now.
The patriarchy will not silence me any longer.
My period is a part of me, for better or worse,
Does my womanhood scare you?
It shouldn’t. This is nature at its finest.
I am not afraid to look at my father, and say,
“I need more pads”
There is nothing bad, or shameful about this.
It took me time to learn.
Necessity drove me to it, moving with no older women made me a stronger person.
My sister feels that shame I once felt now,
I tell her, there is nothing to be shameful about.
Lots of women bleed, its normal
But until she is ready I will hold my head high
And the pads too
Because the patriarchy can’t touch me now
I used to be afraid of blood.
The sight, the smell, the redness
I am stronger now than before.
Try to silence me
I dare you
I wrote this poem because I needed to get it off my chest. While some women may not experience a period, mine haunts me to no end. I needed to get it off my chest, my period is something I wait for now, I expect it to come and welcome every month with. It reminds my celibate self that I am in fact, not pregnant. Congrats, Kali! You did it! No baby for you. But I still feel the shame, just not in such a big dose.
A person getting her period is normal. But when I first got mine it felt wrong somehow, as if my body was doing something shameful. Something to be hidden away and never spoken about except in hushed voices. I was mortified, to say the least when my dad said that he would yell in the store about the type of pad I wanted. But now, I don’t feel shame. Go ahead dad, I’ll yell right back. My period is not something to be ashamed about. I have little shame dad.
My sister, on the other hand, is still in the stage where she doesn’t want to talk with dad about getting more pads. She comes to me and in hushed whispers, she says, “Kali we need to go to the store, I’m out of tampons.” So, my dear little sister, let me tell you something. One day I hope you’ll be at the point I am now. You just don’t care. Because I’m not always going to be there to help you buy these things and carry them through Walmart until we find dad.
But periods are still mysteries to me. I still don’t know much about what happens to my body when I bleed. There are so many different products one can use during one’s period, it shocks me. There are panties, or pads, or menstrual cups. It blows my mind all the different things, but at the same time, it makes me really glad that girls can find the product that works best for them.