Jumping the Fuck Shark

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.