The fallopian tubes. I remember them. I don’t remember the teacher’s name, the one who was showing us the filmstrip in the girls-only, 7th grade health class. Her mouth was always a little off on one side so her lipstick was kind of smeared, and she wore heavy pancake makeup, though she was younger than our mothers, and it was Florida where no one usually wore that. The room was darkened for the projection, and she stood just outside the light’s beam, clicking through the frames.
The shape of the whole setup of the insides, our insides, floating adrift on the white screen always reminded me of a cattle skull with the horns still attached. The fallopian tubes, I remember, had little fringed edges like stunted fingers reaching down into nothingness where one egg – one special egg each month—was chosen by something or chose itself to make the filmstrip staccato journey through multiple frames up the fallopian tubes and down the uterus into nothingness.
The teacher disappeared suddenly during the first semester. No one told us why. “Substitute” days stretched into weeks, and we gossiped “pregnant,” but somehow we thought we overheard “electroshock.” We speculated whether it would make her mouth even more crooked. She never came back. But it didn’t matter for us; we already knew everything we needed to know about being a woman.
Linda Buckmaster has lived within a block of the Atlantic most of her life, growing up in “Space Coast” Florida during the Fifties and Sixties and being part of the back-to-the-land movement in midcoast Maine in the Seventies. Former Poet Laureate of her small town of Belfast, Maine, her poetry, essay, and fiction have appeared in over forty journals and four anthologies. Two of her essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and one of her pieces was listed as a Notable Essay in “Best American Essays 2013.” She has held residencies at Vermont Studios Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Obras Foundation, among others. Linda taught in the University of Maine System for 25 years and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast program of the University of Southern Maine. Her hybrid memoir, Space Heart. A Memoir in Stages, was published in 2018 by Burrow Press. She is currently working on a literary journey across the North Atlantic following the cod. www.lindabuckmaster.com