Grandma showed me how to squat
in the field, pull my underwear
away from the stream of urine
and still keep my balance.
Now, I teach myself to change my tampon
there as well, not wanting to waste time
to go in from the field. Pressing my back
against the tractor tire, legs and buttocks
making a chair, I pull the string
from my body, bury the swollen
cotton in a hole I dug with my hands.
Men cannot make such offerings
to the earth, cannot know what it means
to be born with a sex that looks
like a newly plowed row.
I cover the blood like a seed with cool soil,
pat down the small mound I created
before climbing back on the tractor
to finish the planting.
(printed in North American Review)
C a t t l e G u a r d
A month late, I headed
to his trailer on the east side
of town where the houses
faced fallow fields.
I knocked on the screen door.
He gestured for me to enter,
then offered a Coors Light;
I refused and told him,
“I’m pregnant.” He leaned
against the sink of dirty dishes,
crossed one arm over the other,
then changed his mind.
He took a pull of beer
before he said, “You know,
sometimes cows slip on the ice,
lose their young.” I nodded
as I took note of the cow shit
smeared on his pant leg near
the heel of his boot. “So that’s
how you see it?” I asked.
“That’s how I see it.” I knew
he’d made up his mind. I turned
and left, crossing the threshold
like a cow escaping over a cattle
guard, skittish but sure.
(printed in Water~Stone Review)