Writing last week to a prompt about experiencing puberty, women inside Vermont’s prison responded in a variety of ways – from humor and self-deprecation to soul-wrenching sadness and even terror. For any woman, the story of her first period can be fraught with confusion, embarrassment, triumph, despair, loss of freedom, entrance to maturity. With the added perspective of hindsight, these recountings become all the more poignant.
LS’s title led us to hope for a success in her young life, only to realize the irony of her words by the end:
My face was as red as my blood-soaked pants.
Standing in line to go somewhere I don’t even remember.
I was never the first chosen to play games.
I was never the first to be called to the board, ‘cause I probably really didn’t have the answer.
I wasn’t the first choice to go to the birthday parties.
I wasn’t first on the list when grades were handed out.
I wasn’t first to find the hidden prize.
I wasn’t the first to get in trouble.
But I wasn’t the first not to.
I wasn’t the first to arrive or the first to leave anywhere.
But standing there, in line, I was the first to be embarrassed,
the first to be heckled,
the first to have the first hint of puberty.