Vagina Fights Back
It’s itchier than usual, so I sit cross-legged
on a crosshatched chair in a bright hallway,
waiting on the lady doctor’s nurse to collect me.
A bowl filled to over-flowing with red-wrapped condoms
beside a pamphlet about first-time motherhood.
I’m not interested in a microscopic egg
implanting in my uterine wall, growing
to the size of a watermelon, tearing out of me,
so I stuff two handfuls of red condoms in my purse.
The nurse ushers me to an exam room,
hands me paper-thin t-shirt that falls open in the back,
tells me the doctor will just do a pap.
I lie my naked backside on the crepe covering the exam table,
press my inner thighs together.
After lube, cold speculum, deep
scraping, the doctor hands me a prescription.
Funny how my body’s response to fingers, penis inside me
is to grow more yeast, to fight back.
Funny how treatment requires more insertion – creams, pills.
Learning the Vulva
I schedule a Brazilian wax because I am fed up with shaving. The hunch under shower spray, foot propped on tub lip, the pull to taut the skin so the razor gets every hair. It doesn’t work and I am tired of the itchy grow-back every other day.
I drive to the waxing center and strip my bottom half before lying on a crepe-papered table. The esthetician tells me to butterfly my legs, pubic mound on full display. I make weird small talk – I hope the hair is long enough, sorry about the hickeys – and try to relax as she slathers warm, black gobs of wax along my panty line. She tells me to take a deep breath right as she yanks the dried wax off, pulling what feels like all the hair and skin from that patch of body. She shows me one of the strips – the long roots of pubic hair clash against the black wax. I cringe internally but exclaim oh, wow! Each ripped strip burns as much as the last, but I keep my legs still, knees bent and soles of my feet together. Breathe in, out.
It’s been so many years since I’ve seen my pussy without hair. Even when I started shaving, I’ve never braved razoring it all off. I examine the damage in the mirror at home. It looks different than I imagined from the shape my fingers have mapped; the curve at the apex of the vulva more pronounced, somehow, without the hair to cover it, the inner labia peeking out between the outer. I had to look at a diagram to name these parts.
Brynn Martin is a Kansas native living in Knoxville, where she received her MFA in poetry from the University of Tennessee. She works as the Reading Series Coordinator for Sundress Academy for the Arts. Her poetry has appeared in Public Pool and Contrary Magazine and is forthcoming from Crab Orchard Review.