The Change

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.

#poetry #menstruation #grandmother #MorganGrayceWillow