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What does it mean to be a woman in this world? Is it something to be ashamed of, or something to glory in?
She never hangs her lingerie on the clothesline.
She was told women are supposed to keep their undergarments
away from the public eye.
She never stores tampons and pads in places
She hides them
in the darkest possible plastic bags.
She never gets up
without asking one of her friends:
Peeche theek hai na?
Because heaven forbid if anyone finds out
she is on her periods.
Living her life as though
she is a member of some secret society,
she secretly wonders
if it is shame
that defines womanhood;
if to be a woman means
something to be ashamed of;
if to be a woman
means to be dirty;
like the dirty laundry
that stays hidden in the closet,
quietly stashed away;
like those used, bloody tampons
that stay hidden sitting in the trash.
If to be a woman
is to be dirty,
then I don’t want the dirt
to ever wash away.
Let the stench of this dirt
This poem first appeared in Secrets & Dreams Anthology, Kind of a Hurricane Press, U.S.
Image source: shutterstock
Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist, whose work has been widely published and
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