Seeing the strange belts
like little mouth masks
hung on bamboo poles
I often wondered:
What kind of clothing was that,
so funny-looking
in front of almost every straw-thatched cottage?
‘But you boys don't bother about that!’
Until one of my aunts told me
on a showering afternoon.

It was only when I began to date
a girl in a major city close
to Beijing, many years later,
that I came to know them 
as nothing other than menstrual rags

(a taboo of female blood?)

although they actually looked
more like shrunken flags
than thick masks.

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