The girl tells me aisle four.
But it’s not in aisle four.
I’ve walked up and down aisle four
so many times, I feel like a soldier
defending her home. There is bleach.
There are paper towels and baggies.
There are pads.
But no tampons.
I try the next store.
And the one after that.
This is grocery shopping in New York City,
for those of you still wearing your patriotic 9/11 glasses
with the rosy tint of a clean Times Square.
This is my day to day.
So I settle for the bodega.
They have shelves that stretch to the ceiling.
I see one box up there. One old dusty box
that was probably the first box of tampons ever made
and think, fuck it, I’ll take what I can get.
I ask her. She climbs onto of a cooler
but she can’t reach.
Let me get my boyfriend, she says.
He can’t reach either.
He gets his friend.
We are now, all four of us, crammed in this little store,
The friend uses a stick to knock things down.
This one, he says, as a packet of Stayfresh fall to the ground with a poof.
No, the tampax.
This one, as a box labeled “super” fall with a thud.
No, just the regular, I say. Just a regular sized girl here.
Which one? the friend asks.
The girl points to the regular. She’s trying to help.
This just keeps going on. Eventually they knock down the right one.
They go back outside to talk about basketball.
I pay and leave, not making eye contact.
There is still the wine store
where I will get ripped off.
I will come home, sweating in this rancid heat,
strip down and climb into a cold shower.
I will tell you we are moving.
I will tell you I hate this damn city.
You will apologize over the sound of the water,
pooling in the tub,
but right now,
I’m still on the street, in ninety degree heat
staring at the next block, which now has a chain
pharmacy store that I swear wasn’t there yesterday
Inside the cool air conditioning,
somewhere near an aisle four, I know there are
rows and rows of regular tampons
lined up like little soldiers ready to battle my period
and I think to myself,
after all that,
Doesn’t that fucking figure?