Shedding

is not a period

but it’s funny how the homograph is used in this way—to shut things down, as a period (.) is the end of a sentence, the shut down of conversation, a period as it seems to be also does this too whenever a girl has one,


it becomes the end of a punchline by some boy who doesn’t know how intricate the scream of your flesh is when it breaks from you, it’s a joke (to them) but not to you, it’s not,
like a hungry child, it severs off you, in bits, leaves them drifting into no place—blood, thick and encompassing, it passes out from you as a purge, a cycle of timed limit and reconciliation of you,

parting is such sweet sorrow, even for the inconvenient child in you, the one that doesn’t live, but it’s flowing and alive as blood, as a river, a red river as alive as the pain that gurgles out pleas from your stomach—clutched and cramping on a bathroom floor, that pain is real, that dying is real, the dying of you,

it’s the decay of you, your old self, when your body gives out parts of itself in clumps while you sit, weak, in sour hunger on the floor, a girl, a mess of tears and tablets, guts mangled like your hair on the side of your wet neck, hanging from you, a noose, a tie, a knot (laced now within your throat) from the dry lips to the sore eyes hat match—the mercy of the noose, the comfort for the tie, the tautness in the knot—blinking with mourning and melancholy,

this is what the body does to you,
when your abdomen breaks itself in two and let’s pieces of you fall to the earth again, somehow, it’s painful, to loose yourself as you have many times, the feeling is always unfamiliar, every month, it comes and it goes, the damage of you a scar, a three day lie in, a retreat of flesh and muscle, weakening and pulling and gnawing of you, it is slow, it is gracious,

it is sitting on a bathroom stall for hours after you realise you’re now a woman—but it is you, a blood scholar! reaching and finding out for the first time that so much can leave you and hurt while it does so, the first of many things to follow, that hurt you, in the process of bettering you,

this is not ugly,

this is not gross,

this is not disgusting,

this is not something to be shoved in a purse of shame, wrapped in tissue and shushed mouth, cleansed with bleach words of time of the month and dot, and excuse and excuse and excuse, this is everything feminine, raw and owned, or the continuation of the annual execution of a girl,

this is a period.

by Francesca Johnson

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