Menarche Malarkey the Beginning the End

Neither of us were ready for it
My poor mother dealing The Talk
as the crisis came—sex and the bloom
that preceded it—like a war room
preparation She came with what she
knew: doctrines on the lathe of life,
how to hide secrets Ashamed of
the slick brown tributary, I tucked
the cotton into my pants pocket, sure
it’d be missed in the weekend wash
My poor mother, her hands full
of questions
                  when did it/ why hadn’t I/ the lies
falling from my mouth like dead stars
I held each cramp of shedding,
clotted tissue, scrubbed stains, hid
evidence How we’re taught to think
ourselves criminal, perpetuate
elaborate hoaxes: all witches,
sinners All women, witches:
maybe If I could go back, I’d ask
what’s in the blood? She’d say
of our miraculous machinery—
handing me a tampon, a divacup,
a wrench, a pick axe for this
business of ritual—listen, get to work