I don’t get periods, just exclamation points!
by Andrena Zawinski
Becoming a woman was explained to so many
of us in clichés, couched innuendos, and silences.
Instructions arrived in the Kotex corporation
pamphlet, “You’re a Young Lady Now.”
Inside the box under a soft pink cover, appeared
a sanitary napkin with elastic belt and clips
that would bring chafing, pinching, welts, wedgies,
feeling frumpy with a wad of cotton in the pants.
Even after moving onto disposable tampons,
washable sea sponges, eco-friendly cloth pads,
and heightened awareness, women curl up bloated
in bed when the curse of cramps knocks at the door.
We are still chastised by words as being on the rag,
being told to take a pill, to stop being so moody,
so touchy, sensitive, overreactive when Aunt Flo
sails in to visit on the crimson wave.
German women hear about the Code Red Alarm,
the French get a crime scene in their panties,
Chinese a Bloody Mary, Russians the Red Army.
I tell sisters now how to silence common aspersions—
Hang from your door, desk, computer screen a sign:
“I have PMS and a handgun. Now walk away!”
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More about Andrena Zawinski: www.poetrymagazine.com/zawinski