Menstruation Initiation Ritual

In White America, the girl is alone
in her suburban bedroom, carpeted
and soft, she moves her houseplant
collection as night falls across the windows
that suddenly turn black behind the blinds.
The girl flexes her athletic limbs
and moves her bookcase, her bed.
The room she shifts 180 degrees,
and making a new arrangement,
she feels satisfied. She readies for bed,
goes to the toilet, and with a wipe,
sees the startle of new blood.
It is then she must cross the hall
to the older sister, if there is an older sister,
and she is given a plastic pad, plainly.
She sleeps alone in twin bed below
cheerleading ribbons, soccer trophies
and stuffed animals. She will never remember
telling her mother in the morning.
The father living in the other house
will never know exactly when
she changed. On the first day,
the girl will attend her friend’s horse show
and she will bleed through
pad, underwear, jean shorts
all through her dull ache.
On the third day, the girl attends her eighth grade
baccalaureate mass, and with her pelvis
in throb and heat, she will ignore Jesus bleeding
above the altar, and she will sit on the hard wood
of the pew watching every woman, every elder
and seeing them for the first time, feel a sorry,
sad and secret awe.