Something Borrowed

by Jen DeGregorio

I used to shave my legs with my father’s razor.
It was silver, made of metal. I liked how cool,
how heavy it felt in my hand. Not like the cheap
plastic razors that came packed in three
shades of pink. He kept it zipped
in a black leather case under the sink
with his hairbrush, his aftershave. Separate
from our things: mine, my sister’s, and mother’s. We
had two bathroom drawers, the top filled
with our brushes, our hair ties, our blush,
the bottom with our tampons, our pads. One day
my mother warned me not to dispose of those last two
in the bathroom, to use the kitchen trash can instead,
which was much deeper, behind cabinet doors. Why?
She got close to my face, whispered, There’s
a smell.
I knew this was my father’s idea, the latest
she faithfully passed on in our family’s strange
game of telephone. So whenever it fell, that time of month,
I’d wrap my tampon with toilet paper, put my ear to the door
to hear if I was alone. And I’d take the object
still warm from my body silently into the hall, listening
for my father’s footfall, half terrified, half wanting him
to catch me, what I held, blood seeping through.

Jen DeGregorio‘s poetry has appeared in Apogee online, The Baltimore Review, The Collagist, Third Coast, Spoon River Poetry Review, WSQ (Women’s Studies Quarterly), Yes Poetry, and elsewhere. She has taught writing, literature, and arts courses at colleges in New Jersey and New York, including Binghamton University, where she is currently a PhD student in English and an instructor with the Binghamton Poetry Project.