Back-to-School Shopping at J.C. Penny's

I left my mother holding neck scarves
I had selected from the display
neatly arranged by patterns
separated by thin dividers-
one to match my poodle skirt
one with yellow bees
one red and black with ladybugs.

I returned from the bathroom
on the balcony past tight bolts
of fabric.

Mother never told me
about menstruation but I had seen
the fifth grade girls-only film.

When I told her I needed pads
she dropped the scarves in her arms
huffed in disgust and left
the store with nothing.

-Jan Chronister

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Jan Chronister lives and writes in the woods near Maple, Wisconsin. Her chapbook Target Practice was published in 2009 by Parallel Press at the University of Wisconsin. She currently serves as the president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.