strike sparks prairie fires.
in a smoke-wreathed room,
porcine gamblers with gimlet eyes.
down at the counter,
scuffed boots, blue jeans,
darlin’s wet dream
sweet cherry tobacco
whisky on the rocks.
she pays her bill,
reaches for her car keys.
Anna is ten and she is
bleeding. Her mother warned her this would happen to her one day,
but she has forgotten. She thinks she is dying, bleeding to death.
She sits on the toilet, her favourite pair of panties wrapped
around her skinny knees, the ones she got in her Christmas
stocking with /'Girl Power'/ sewn across the front in curly pink
letters. She stares in horror at the bright red blotch that has
seeped into the thin white cotton fabric, then she opens her mouth
Anna is thirteen and she is bleeding, she
just doesn't know it yet. When the school bell rings, she packs
her books and pencil-case away in her canvas bag and joins the
throng of children moving in a crush towards the classroom door.
When she hears the boys behind her laughing, she turns around and
sees them pointing at her skirt. She fiddles nervously with her
ponytail and tries to ignore them. She knows the boys in her class
are idiots, but they still make her feel clumsy and ugly.
is sixteen and she is bleeding. The sun is shining, the sky is
blue, but she is not swimming in the sea or jumping through waves
with the rest of her family. She is sitting alone on the sand with
the towels and assorted beach paraphernalia they have discarded
next to her. She does not know how to use tampons. She has tried,
but she can't do it. The instructional diagrams on the leaflet
inside the box just confuse her more. She feels like an outsider,
a pariah. The sun beats down on the back of her neck making her
headache worse. The heat is melting her bones.
nineteen and she is bleeding. She is also in love for the first
time. She is lying with her boyfriend, Peter, on his unmade bed in
a varsity digs. He keeps telling her how much he needs her and
trying to slip his hand up between her thighs. She is too
embarrassed to tell him she has her period. He says menstruation
is dirty, makes her feel ashamed of the steady trickle between her
legs. Her words stick at the back of her throat and she gets tired
of holding her breath, so she stands up and leaves as silently as
she came. He ignores her after that.
Anna is twenty-five
and she is bleeding. Her latest man, Zane, thinks she is a
manifestation of some ancient goddess. He is into earth mothers
and crystal healing and loves fucking her when she is on. He says
it makes him feel like he is harnessing the power of the natural
world. Anna just thinks it is messy. Zane is not the one who has
to change the sheets and wash them.
Anna is twenty-eight
and she is not bleeding, in fact, she is two weeks late. She sits
on the cracked toilet seat in her bachelor flat waiting to see if
the strip will turn blue. The drip from the bath tap makes her
think of a ticking time bomb. She hasn't prayed to God since
before she was ten. She wonders why he should start listening to
a year out of school,
room, single bed,
covered the walls,
he said he felt
he was fucking
a brick wall. I think
he was wearing
his socks. God,
I wondered, wincing
a brown stain
on the ceiling, is this
as good as it gets?