Womanhood

Linzy Rosen, 19, she/her/hers

I learned about womanhood from the kitchen table
During the holidays, when men had cut through their steaks and only a pool of crimson blood remained,
My sister and I knew it was our cue
Our mouths leaked like Pavlov’s dogs
Except we salivated at an empty plate.

A spark-like sensation traveled through our veins
And sent a pulse through our bodies, which were unequivocally
Hungry to work, to clean
To keep themselves inconceivably busy.

My mother herded us into the kitchen
Admonishing us for not getting up sooner,
For letting a cry of feral anguish escape our chairs as they scraped against the aging floors-
I felt the pain.

It dug craters into my skin like the constellations of crumbs I shoveled on my palms
And my seat at the table felt like a guilty pleasure I had selfishly indulged in;
The shame constricted me like a hair bow wrapped too tightly.

I exited the room in the aching melody of clanking plates and deep voices while
My opinions were tucked away,
Hidden within the intricate folds of napkins I had stacked
And the water I poured out from half-empty glasses sent drip-drop dreams down the drain.

It is easy to forget about yourself here:
I was in a place where decrepit floorboards felt like home
And my ideas were stuffed into the medicine cabinet
Forced to fill the crevices between age-concealing cream.

I learned that
Womanhood
Is looking at a cracked eggshell, jagged and hollow,
And seeing my reflection
It is salivating at an empty plate
Rather than one that is full.

Womanhood is knowing with paralyzing conviction that even though you will scrub every inch of fine China
The blood will still
remain.

“I Miss Your Smile”

Visual Art by: Kendra Small, 17, she/her/hers
(Click on image to see in the piece in its totality)