Having only months before
begun myself to bleed,
I know just what to do
when my two-year younger sister
wakes up to bloody panties
that summer we stayed at Grandma’s house,
sleeping in the big west-facing room,
lace curtains, shades drawn behind at night,
blonde furniture set, large narrow photo
of Uncle Dale and his Army company
hanging above the bed,
bus going by in the early morning.
I’ve already explained this means
she can have babies now.
I leave out the rest, which I don’t
fully understand myself
yet, but I do add
that from now on
it’ll happen every month.
The three of us
in the bathroom, Grandma
washing out my sister’s underwear,
when I ask: Where do you keep
the Kotex pads, Grandma?
And she says: I’ll send Grandpa
to the store to pick some up.
She must have heard the shock
in my voice: You don’t have
any? No, she added.
After the change,
you don’t need them anymore.