Sunday, July 19, 2020


The truck stop toilet bowl
Swirls red
Empties with a whoosh.

Why was it red, Mommy?
Mommies bleed sometimes.
Does it hurt?
Where does it come from, Mommy?
It looked like kool-aid. Giggles.
You’ll learn all about it someday.
And me?
Not you. Just mommies.

Nine years later—
Capsized by a wave of hormones
Baptism by blood
I am the fountain
I am the flood
I am…back in diapers?
No, thank you!
This is a mutiny!

At day’s exhausted end I
Brush my teeth, brush my hair,
Scrub iron-rich stains from underwear,
So focused I forget to look in the rearview mirror,
Miss my last glimpse of carefree girlhood.
I miss my body. The one that fit.

For whom this bloody sacrifice?
Certainly not for me.
This woman’s body is cranky and clumsy
And sore and doesn’t fit.
It leaks! A terrible design.

Having lived by the sun,
I’m now chained to the moon,
A mysterious red moon somewhere in my belly
That will drip down my legs
Like melted strawberry popsicle
Thirteen times a year.
If I’m lucky.

For how long?
Forty years, maybe.
Panties in the sink 500 times?
I didn’t sign up for this!

You look nice, he says. Is that perfume?
That shade looks unnatural, she says,
I don’t like your tone.

As if I am marooned by choice.

And you’re a lady now? pries granny.
I am.
The boys were fun, she remembers.
Nothing serious, just friends,
But we went to the beach and I couldn’t…
I dearly loved to swim.
It’s our whispered secret:
This lady business is not all grand.

On hikes and bikes and airplanes,
Church pews, carousels.
Bleeding through sleeping bags, guest sheets,
McDonald’s napkins in a pinch.
Crimson blotches on the soap bar.
Rolling engorged and sweaty pads into stinking snails
And burying them in the wastebasket.

I know my roommate’s blood by pungent scent
Uncowed by candles, soaps, or sprays.
She must know mine?
(Does it attract or repulse predators, I wonder?)
Discreet, we never discuss
But when we bleed we take the elevator,
A small monthly indulgence.

Undeterred by calendars
Blood intrudes on

My lovers were never squeamish
So why,
When I long to bathe a sword in blood,
Am I too shy to ask?

At long last I am ready to put
This program that has hummed steadily
In the background so long
To its use: a portal
To communicate with the future.
Red-hot hope fixed on
A water balloon in my belly
Spills out again in
Pools of liquid disappointment.
My moon is defective,
Its tides too strong.
Are we to be forever marooned in the present?
And then it holds!
Waxes full! Its tides raise a mountain and
From a mighty crevasse bursts new life, lusty and strong.
Blood flows like lava, slows, and is replaced by yellow drops as
Golden as new motherhood.

Before the tides can resume,
Another mountain, another earthquake,
A squirming pink treasure
With squinty eyes, rosebud mouth,
And a slit that oozes pink stain in the doll-sized diaper,
Practice for when she will sync with a moon,
Twelve years hence.

Son cries against the bathroom door.
Inside, I sit over a bowl of kool-aid and clots,
Shaky with relief. I rest my hands
On my thighs as milk lets down.
Gratitude flowing.
Everything leaking at once, salty and sweet.
Twenty years down. Twenty to go.

The toilet paper is gone.
Of course it is.

-J. Lofland