1998 was about pretending to be brave at the counter
with the box of pads
(and I still hate that word pads
hate how it feels in my mouth
hate saying hey do you have a pad?
hate how it looks on a grocery list
so much that I write etc. next to tampons)
but I buy pads. And in 1998 I pretended to be so brave
and I would drop that box on the counter
and look the cashier right in the eye and he or she
(and hopefully she)
would ring up my pads (because I was afraid of tampons)
with my lipstick and gum and magazine
(because you never buy just pads) and gently hand over the cash.
1998 was about I am not one of those girls who is afraid
to buy pads because for fucks sake I am not the only girl
who has ever had a period I am not the only woman
who has needed a pad.
And yet I trembled and my voice pitched higher I said thank you
and I lost my breath when the cashier was a man and was it worse
if it was a boy or a man? And all of these fucks I gave away like
coins into the register for medical necessities that we
are skulking about in that aisle trying to pick out
because some of the tampons are all slick packaging
and some promise period days with white bathing suits
and we don’t want to be here and we don’t but
this is where we protect the unease of what bodies do.
It’s what bodies do. And it’s 2017 and I empty my basket
of pads pads and tampons and whatever else
onto the counter and I think I might even
be flirting with this cashier
who is ten years younger than me
because he’s cute and I want to and I’m so out of fucks
to give over a bunch of cotton to stuff
in my cooter
and here I have jumped the fuck shark.
E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Prince fan, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and Hysteria: Writing the female body (Sable Books, forthcoming). Kristin is the author of eight chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), We’re Doing Witchcraft (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), and 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press). Kristin is an editor at Red Paint Hill and was formerly a poetry editor at Found Poetry Review. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com and on twitter at @ek_anderson.