One of the poems that I’ve been waiting to write about is “The First Tampon” by Karen Wolbach in AD 36/37. By now, I’ve read through this piece quite a few times, and every time I get something new out of it, or I get to think more deeply about what I’ve already found. Having that kind of a relationship with a poem is refreshing because I don’t always read things that have layers of meaning.
You can’t really get the whole effect without reading the entire poem, but here are a few lines that I find especially potent:
Like a price tag, the cut end of a sausage,
a tail of spittle hanging from an old woman’s chin,
or the loose thread inevitably
dangling from your hem,
then your mother coming after you
with scissors. This little white thing,
There’s an open conversation here about what we, as a society, believes should be kept hidden. In some ways I read this poem as a plea of guilt or shame, but the very writing of this poem makes me feel like there is another layer of pride for having to ‘just deal with it.’ The first tampon becomes both something to hide and a necessary rite of passage.
I think that’s also a really wonderful part of poetry too: each line has the opportunity to completely shift the reading of that poem. So, a poem has a kaleidoscopic movement where each line can shift the reader’s perception.
I hope you’re finding something new!
—autumn, Editorial Asst.—