a sixth grade classroom
full of curious little girls
stare at their teacher, whose face has turned bright red
they are overwhelmed by questions that will never be answered
society has censored the shedding uterus
eleven-year-old me is anxious of rainfall I knew would come unannounced
and when it arrived, it was a flood of unpleasantness
what should’ve felt like a welcoming party to womanhood
was actually an orientation to shame,
graveyard to careless girl-hood
marked by the discomfort rushing between my legs,
ruining my sheets and favorite pajama pants.
it takes a while to figure out the pounding on the walls of my belly
serve as warning sirens for monthly monsoon
I’ll pray to God my period doesn’t come at the end of the semester
how am I supposed to be tested on chemistry
when all I want to know is why
there is such awful chemistry between my cycle and my back.
when my grown brother asks me why I look like I’m about to faint
I’ll excuse my agonizing tiredness to missing breakfast
why are we so fast to conceal the nature of our bodies?
as I grow I learn many things
such as menstruation does not like to be lonely
it magically syncs with the women around me
the women I love
I also learn PMS is nothing compared to all the pain our world inflicts on
all that it means to be a woman.
a young girl is listening to a middle-aged man call her blood unholy
but what could be more blessed then the possibility of creating life?
I’ve never read a novel that’s mentioned periods
sometimes I forget menstruation is not a recent discovery
no one ever told little girls to discuss and learn
about their anatomy
they’ve never had anywhere written for them:
love thy period
hate thy period
but thou shall not
stigmatize thy period
isn’t it time we denounce the shame that’s stained the women before us?
Mawadah is a 16-year-old artist and writer based in Riyadh. Born in Cairo, Egypt but growing up between America, Canada, and Saudi Arabia has made her explore themes of diaspora, identity, growing up and culture. She aims to de-stigmatize and create conversations about uncomfortable and important topics. Mawadah loves travelling, museums, dogs, and her ukulele.