The Menstrual Ghost

To Sharon Olds and Pablo Neruda (RIP):
Thank you for making odes amazing

She lives inside me still, after all these years
as quiet as a drop of blood sliding down a swollen
canal. She wasn’t always so noiseless, so white, she was
lush and screaming vermillion like a flycatcher caught
in a uterus. She’d stain anything that happy, “look-at-me”
red as she rushed from the top of her pre-menstrual
perch to the bottom of my brand new panties. One,
lonely, fallen egg full of hope and hormones, and tomorrow
was thrust out of the boat like a ripped fish, may the blood dance
begin. Now, subtlety is her claim to fame, but she is still a trickster
rearing her ghostly head to play games with my mood, my
memory, hanging around like that last guest who won’t leave
the party, waiting for an offer of another drink. How do I tell
this train wreck she is just a caboose now, uncoupled from
the rolling stock that left the soiree long ago? I closed the
cupboard and sold my stock in Victoria Secret. This phantom visits
for an unexpected afternoon tea, toting a basket of thumb print
cookies with a shining berry spot right in the middle of sweet,
pale pastry. “A little joke,” she says refusing to tell me
where I put my keys, who I just dialed on my cell, or why
I dreamed of my ex-husband again. Oh, so funny hiding
like a hook in a captured carp, she keeps me guessing
still, and knows how welcome she once could be, how
often I begged on my “I-know-I-shouldn’t-have-done-it-again”
knees, asking for her to please give me that first alarm, sharp
zips across my hips, the wet arriving as slippery as an eel right
between my prayers, scarlet and wailing a monthly promise,
that emerges like blood across the toilet, “Never again!” I loved her
then, and now like a resentful old biddy, she rests at the edge
of my thinking. Maybe I should bring her that drink, after all,
this menses ghost who has no idea that my grief for her
death was as hollow as my eggless womb, and as clean
as my stain-free Levi’s. Not a tear nor single souvenir of our life-
long relationship exists, unless you count dusty tampons
in the back of the guest bathroom cabinet, or the random,
wily, hot flash. Seriously, if she is going to haunt my withered
ovaries, my wrinkled memories, she should at least tell me
what secrets are written here in these hieroglyphics stamped
across my post-menopausal countenance? More than old wives
tales I hope? More than fish stories? At least a favorite recipe?

Thank you, PrettySimpleSweet, for the amazing recipe and image.

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