The Disease of Womanhood.

Exiting the bathroom stall
Sweat drips from forehead
absorbed by cotton hijab
Red drops drip from skin
absorbed by cotton pads
I lift my jumper and check my butt in the mirror
Leggings stained with spots
The marker of my womanhood
It is here.

I scurry outside
to the sea of white and blue
Clenching my tummy tightly
I whisper in her ear
“do you have Tylenol?”
Access granted.
She slips me pills from her pocket
They were always there.

The ringing of the bell
summons our quarantine
Locked up in a cell during the afternoon prayers
Aliyah stands guard
A male passes our door
She sends us a signal
and we duck in shame
We were never there.

Avoiding exposure of our disease
we run to the entrance of the mosque
but careful not to make noise
Just as the Imam finishes praying
we slip back into the women’s section
We were always there.

Mariam falls behind and gets caught in the act
She runs into a male classmate
The stares are awkward.
They both know it but won’t say it
The distress of being an adolescent
lingers in the air
They both sit in their desks fiddling thumbs
When the rest of us reach the class, Omar calls over the boys
Huddles, whispers, points, giggles
She’s been exposed
A woman is here.