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Clover Poetry Series: On Periods and Power

Clover Poetry Series: On Periods and Power

While reading about the tampon tax, I couldn't help but think about how my friends and I all squeal and high-five at our table in the cafeteria when we find out our cycles sync up. It's completely different than how I'd take drastic efforts to hide my pads in the sixth grade. I decided to write a poem about periods, taking a satirical approach to the ridiculous stigma surrounding them. 

"Raise Your Tampon In The Air"

Do you have...
Do you have a...
Do you have a t-t-t—
Should I send an SOS over mass text?
Why is there no girl code to save me from this distress?

Do you have a tampon?
At this point I really wish I knew morse code
Then I wouldn’t have to fear everyone else hearing—
Do you have a tampon?
Why is it such a secret?
Why is it such a crippling subject to mention?
Why is it that we hide our pads under lip gloss and hair ties so that, upon first glance no one will see,
And why is it that...God!
I need some Advil
For my...headache...

When I forget to change my tampon,
Why do I have to squirm around in my chair
Trying to get a tampon out from my bag and into my pocket without anyone noticing?
Only for the teacher to say, “Is it an emergency?”
Uh, yeah, it is.
Shall I wave my tampon in the air?
Guess who’s not pregnant this month?
Sorry, did I disturb you?
That’s how menstruation works.
But no, that’s not how society works.

Because in the sixth grade, I would lie that I hadn’t gotten “it” even though I was wearing a pad that day.
Today, my friends and I chant and cheer because our cycles have synced up
Though exchanging tampons is still, somehow, as secretive as if we were dealing drugs
They are still too scared to wave their tampons in the air
And why would it be such a big deal if we did?
Why are they made to be seen?
After all, companies make them so pretty
Little pink flowers on the packaging and far more clean than the rags homeless women wear
Because food stamps don’t cover tampons
Menstruation is not seen as a government necessity
Because half of our country’s population felt they needed immense pain every 3 to 4 weeks

I’m sorry it’s so hard for you to live life knowing I have excruciatingly painful cramps once a month.
And please don’t compare that to getting kicked in the balls
If you get kicked in the balls once a month you are probably an awful person.
I didn’t choose to be subjected to the fiery pits of hell
The second I look down at my underwear.
Oops, was that not ladylike enough?

Truly, I am sorry that it’s hard for you to understand the blatant misogyny imposed on me for living between the age of 12 and 50
Trust my sincerity
In fact, I think I’m about to get teary eyed over how hard your struggle is having to hear about my cycle
If I did get compassionate you’d just blame my crying on “that time of the month”
No, truly, thank you for keeping track of my cycle more closely than any period app ever could
If you’re so keen to factor in my cycle
Maybe it’s time we drop the stigma
Simply admit periods exist, then finally
I’d be able to say

Do you have a tampon?

By Madison Lynn, 17

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