Liz Whiteacre


Cycles on Wind Street


So, you’re still changing toilet paper rolls
while sitting on johns—that hasn’t changed,
but now there’s no shyness, talking of menstruation
without assonance, without setting a scene.
You can laugh now about your real birthday night,
just aged 14, and how the shock of that beet red
nipped at the heels of embarrassment, when
your little sister announced before the sleep
over, is she going to stain the sheets? It’s easy,
like folding fitted sheets, preparing annual taxes,
finding time to wash baseboards—the origin story
rolls off your tongue and settles at the feet of strangers,
even your own daughter. Impatient, you expected
to transform, like butterfly from cocoon, but
no, it was merely a new routine, the peeling
of plastic, the wearing of dark shorts, maybe
a decision to sit on the beach—summertimes
littered with sanitary napkins, but you
ever blooming, taking little notice of menses
flooding what would make you a mother:
blessed sensory overload at five in the morning.
What you cannot talk about now, 30 years later,
is the moment mensuration morphed: your hair
falling out in clumps, erratic bleeding, weighted
mammary glands, pain zippering your abdomen,
when you’d always been, Normal. Balding, bent
double, on an exam table, you observe your ovaries
on grainy film six months after your fortieth birthday
holding your breath, reading ultrasounds like tea
leaves, until the technician says, off the record,
I’d say you look normal, because she knows it’s
not easy—like coordinating the family’s schedule,
remembering to change the furnace filter,
finding time to dust baseboards—your aging body
transforms, like ants under cordyceps’ control,
new routines for middle age. Impatient, you
will learn to tend your evolving body, cultivate
its cycles. Young Girl, hair grows back slowly.



Liz Whiteacre is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Indianapolis who teaches creative writing. She works with students through Etchings Press to produce Etchings Literary and Fine Arts Magazine, judge the Whirling Prize, and facilitate the UIndy Potluck Podcast series. She is the author of the chapbook Hit the Ground. Her poetry has appeared in Disability Studies Quarterly, WordgatheringKaleidoscope, and other literary magazines.

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