i. the first time my period comes, it starts in my knees- a tender,
shivering ache that travels to my lower back, to the space between
my blooming hips. the howl that breaks from my mouth is one of a girl dying,
wounded. I burst into my mother’s bedroom, flowered underwear pulled
down to my thighs, at once both terrified and brazen. she tells me I‘m not dying,
and hands me a pad, its yellow wrapper
crinkling in my whitened grip. no, I’m not dying, she assures me. I am beginning anew.
I am in seventh grade, sobbing in the bathroom stall of a water park. I tell
my mother over the phone, I wasn’t expecting it today and I don’t know what to do.
how am I supposed to swim now? she says, I’m sorry, honey, I guess you can’t. but when
I say, I can wear a tampon. they have a machine here that sells them, she says, no no no no no,
repeatedly, vehemently. I ask her why until my throat goes hoarse, until she finally says,
only sluts wear tampons. and no daughter of mine will be a slut
iii. spotted panties at age 12 in the line at krispy kreme, white skirted and mortified,
and again in my seat in the middle of freshman english class, and yet
again in the backseat of a car at 19 years old. it doesn’t stop being new,
nor unpredictable. I’m washing my pants in the bathroom sink, earning these stains
like little battle scars shoved further and further into my underwear drawer.
iv. boys who scoff and say, god, she’s pissed. she must be on the rag. boys who
tremble at the slightest scrape, the miles-away scent of blood, but say,
I’ve been hit in the balls before. that hurts way worse than anything you’ve felt.
I smile thinly, mutely. look back on all those doubled-over, heat-padded nights.
the clammy pale of my skin as my vision fizzles, with no ibuprofen at hand.
the sway of my body on a toilet bowl stained scarlet, like lake overflowing with rose petals.
the casual spilling of my flesh, like it’s effortless, like it’s painless, like it’s not
the most beautifully brutal thing I’ve ever done
Wanda Deglane is a capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and family & human development. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Former Cactus, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), and Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019).