Elizabeth Oxley

Sacred Errand

Denim jeans bloom petals of blood, dark garden growing 
beneath my thighs as I park at the pharmacy. Customers 
ease through glass doors. I buy maxi pads for my mom, 

said a boy in our sixth-grade sex education class. 
The teacher’s desk held busts of genitals. They sat apart 
as if leprous, vessels for contagion. I pictured the boy 

with plastic bag, his mother’s hand grasping lengths of cotton. 
How easily he’d turn husband, worship his wife’s body 
from the inside out. The first time I bled, my mother 

issued instructions, and I became a woman as quietly 
as a note passed in secret. (Tell your daughters anything 
that gives life to life is holy.) The drugstore gleams in sunlight, 

temple on the asphalt mount. I need its stores of comfort, 
glaring signs, effective remedy for my natural state. I’ll slip inside 
through air clotted with blossoms, spring tide of cherry trees.