In second grade, Samantha told me
that babies come out of your butt,
and I said, “no, they come out of your vagina,”
because that’s what my mom had told me,
and she knew everything.
Samantha stayed firm in her stance.
I went home and asked my mother,
who assured me that yes,
I was right, and someday Samantha
would learn the same,
would learn her origin story,
not her origin myth,
and someday we
would not be reprimanded
for naming our bodies into existence.
When the period gossip started
about who “got it” and who “had it”
in the fifth grade, the mothers
clicked their tongues in sympathy
for the girls who carried pads
in hidden pockets to art
and library and gym,
and for the girls they created
the “no-spaghetti-straps” rule
because their breasts were too distracting
to a crowd of scrawny boys, still kids,
forgetting that we were all kids.
We whispered urban legends about the bridge
at our middle school and who did what there,
what kind of kissing or revealing
of private parts in what ways–
which we did not have names for,
and what words we had
we could not yet define.
We spoke of sex, and how it would
hurt for us, how we would bleed
from between our legs,
but in a different way than before,
how our bodies would not want
to welcome him, always “him.”
And what age it was okay to lose it,
and which couples were doing it,
and which stores had a self-checkout
so we could buy the condoms
we weren’t taught how to use,
and what to say if he wouldn’t use one.
Our educations took place in hallways
and locker rooms and basements,
or in the middle of a touch we hadn’t known
until then, only then did we learn.
This education we craved in R rated movies–
how lucky we were when the movie theater didn’t ID.
Our suburban universe never expands,
only closes in, and how close we all were
in summer classrooms and sweat,
and all we had said and done to each other