The year after my dad died
when self-destructive behaviors
of an adolescent a little too smart to be saved
and a little too saved to be smart
began waving red flags in my mother's mind
a therapist was appointed to the task.
That same year my period came.
Like many 13 year olds
I consulted the frequent signifiers of my culture
to figure out how to appropriately respond.
All development is mimetic, after all.
Took courses and rigorous notes
by watching my creaturely sisters
who seemed more often than not
as if they were doing all of this for the
entertainment and confirmation of male/truth/s.
"Complain. Joke. Trivialize.
Consider it a nuisance, and act suprised
by how inconvenient it is every month.
Never pay attention to the pain; just play annoyed
and grip your belly as if to say "be quiet" for all of us."
So I did. And one day
as I was mimicking this cultural performance
in my therapist's office, she interrupted me.
"What if you didn't do that?
What if you learned to listen to it?
What if you considered it a creative, purifying force within you?"
She didn't say "feminism" or "cultural conditioning" or "patriarchy."
She invited me to witness and recognize my body differently.
Thousands and thousands of dollars were worth that moment alone.
17 years later a rhythm began in my abdomen that I quickly recognized
as a creative, purifying force, one to be heard and obeyed not dismissed and avoided.
Because I'd learned long ago the art of recognizing my body differently,
my daughter was born into a welcomed space instead of a war zone.