Christa Forster

                         Jeanne Bessette

                        Jeanne Bessette



Last month, as I was changing my tampon,

about a half a cup of my menstrual blood 

fell from me to the faculty bathroom floor. 


In the stall next door to where this revelation

occurred, one of my colleagues sat and shat

(I could hear her snips plopping into the bowl, 


smell a dusk rising from her inner dark). 

Checking beneath the partition, I eyed 

her black flats, solidly squared, cleaned 


up my mess, wondering if she witnessed. 

Though the scarlet lining of my uterus still 

sheds, now it defies the rules (la regla


it’s called in Español): suddenly bloody one day,

then nothing for months to follow. My womb’s fruits

are two tweenagers now, frightening in their ripening. 


As if a chalice inside me accidentally smashed, 

the applicator must have sucked out substance

as I shot the cotton in. No one wants to see this: 


rogue roughness gushing from a woman’s sex, 

despite that we’re here because of it—when

it works like clockwork, ticking neatly—the


grossness transformed into tongues and ears 

and eyes, a mess become flesh, bones and breath.

It’s nothing to fear, this apocalypse inside me.



It’s winter. I’m sick, naturally.

A kind salesman tried to sell me a kumquat,

but I don’t think he arrived in time because

there’s a war on, eking out another champion.

The mothers shouldn’t be disturbed, so I walk

quietly. Perhaps their dreams will occur

to me: I hear them in their famished forms.

I know the world won’t end this time,

but I’m a little scared, and I’m never clean.

In a week, the streets will clear. 

Change is uncomplicated. I can put

your stuff in storage and walk around. 


Christa Forster earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where she studied with Edward Hirsch and Adam Zagajewski and served as poetry editor of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She has won multiple Individual Artist Grants in Literature, attended the Tin House and Naropa Summer Writing workshops, and written for and performed in live bands and theater productions, including several original one-woman shows. Her literary work has been published in print anthologies and in online literary journals. Additionally, her feature work appears in Bluestem, The Broken Plate, Cite Magazine, ellipsis... literature & art, The Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, The Round, Sanskrit, and Sculpture Magazine.