A blooming flower,
If flowers were covered in blood clots and were nature’s embodiment of Satan’s sacrificial waterfall,
This merciless, relentless, demonic thing clawing its way out of my body.
I call my period a ghost that creeps into this house once a month,
This distorted Bloody Mary that always comes knocking at the wrong time.
I call it that friend,
The one who shows up at your doorstep drunk,
With her bags and tear tracks running down her cheeks,
The one who spends the next five to seven days puking in your bathroom.
I call my period a special package,
One that shows up every twenty eight business days.
With a delivery charge that I wasn’t notified about,
Is there a refund policy on this item?
Luxury tax is for diamonds and caviar,
Not for what I use as shelter from the storm raging inside of my abdomen.
When I call my period a screaming child,
I think of the twelve year old who died of sepsis,
From leaving a tampon in for too long,
She didn’t know any better.
But we can’t talk about menstrual health in the open,
What will people think?
When I say that my period is a crime scene
I think of the fifteen year old in Nepal,
Locked for five days in a menstruation hut,
In the frigid air of the Himalayas,
Without food or water,
Separated from society because of a mere biological function,
Experienced by half of the bodies on this planet,
She was dead by the fifth morning.
When I say that my period is a cold-blooded murderer,
I think of the eighteen year old in Assam,
Who used dirty rags to soak up the blood,
The toxicity creeping up into her stomach,
Cloth covers her corpse now.
How many more bodies must be added to this pile of blood and flesh,
Before we can say that we know better?
When will we learn to pull our purple pads out of their miniature black body bags?
Tear the newspaper off these packets of tampons,
When will we learn to take back our shame?
When I call my period anything but its name,
I wonder why I must.
I wonder why I am standing here spouting out all of these complex euphemisms,
For something that is so intrinsically natural.
We are the species that coined the phrase:
Call a spade a spade.
Do not call it girl flu,
Or shark week,
Call it a period.
Do not call it dirty blood,
Call it menstruation.
Call it the process of the shedding of the uterine lining through the vagina,
I know that you’re cringing,
So am I.
The language that we have been taught to use,
While referring to our own bodies is inherently shameful,
And it has been branded onto our tongues.
When a man calls childbirth holy,
And menstruation repulsive,
I want to tell him that the reproductive system is not some sort of bodily vending machine,
Where you can pick and choose what you’re comfortable embracing.
Girls all over the world are at risk for fatal diseases,
Due to a lack of access to menstrual products,
And you think periods are disgusting,
Not suitable conversation for public spaces,
And you scratch your head,
Wonder why I am so angry,
Puzzle over why I am getting so riled up,
Before you ask,
It is that time of the month.
But hot water bags and bloodstained mattresses do not explain this rage.
They do not explain teenage girls,
Hunted down by this stigma,
Their bleeding bodies washed away by a river of our ignorance.
This silence has spilt their blood onto our hands,
It is dripping into a pool on the marble floors,
That we are so accustomed to.
The less we talk about what we have deemed our weakness,
The taller this pile of bodies is growing,
And only the strength in our voices can make it stop.
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