Napkins

 

There is a little box

next to every toilet

in the ladies’ room.

 

Small,

simple,

made with shining metal.

 

There is nothing

on the quiet little box

except a black sticker with

 

little

white

shapes on it.

 

When I was little

I was confused by the shiny box

and wondered what the funny little thing was for.

 

Sometimes

the pearly little box

comes with instructions

 

that say:

“This little box is for little ladies’

napkins”.

 

Our

napkins?

I didn’t know

 

what the odd little box was talking about.

Later I would

come to know the lovely little euphemism

 

for pads.

Tampons.

Or even menstrual cups.

 

But those words sound gross.

Those words aren’t for lovely little ladies to say.

I didn’t learn those words until blood ran down my legs.

 

Blood that stains carpets

and soaks through clothes, yes–

and blood that runs through all our veins.

 

Everyone is red

and squishy

and sensitive inside,

 

But no one wants to see that.

It’s much nicer to think

of lovely little ladies

with pretty white napkins

for setting the table.

 

Lovely little ladies who never

Ever

Bleed.