Housing a pair of ovaries begets all manner of peculiar circumstances, but one of the most distinct endemic oddities is the sensation of someone touching them. I was nearly eighteen before I experienced it. Until then, my reproductive equipment chiefly manifested as textual, rather than felt — jumbled words and diagrams, a sapless explanatory narrative of something that, despite its physical detachment, seemed vaguely lewd. Then, in high school, when my periods became excruciating, I was intermittently alerted to their residence. Each month, the howl of menstrual cramps gestured to the tumble at the bottom of me. But more often than not, the tubes and chasms and clumps rarely piped up or protested. I still think of my womb and its relevant paraphernalia like a basin out of reach, pell-mell contents cloistered to a space where I cannot dip my hand.
Each month, the howl of menstrual cramps gestured to the tumble at the bottom of me. But more often than not, the tubes and chasms and clumps rarely piped up or protested.
Enduring a gynecologist’s pelvic exam fostered a new tactile encounter — a baffling one, seemingly achieved through the transitive property. In preparation for college, my mother sent me to her doctor, the one who had delivered both my younger sisters, and who she was still seeing over a decade later when her own ovaries had grown malignant. I found the ordeal altogether wretched — the cool, antiseptic air that dawdled against my bashful body; the stirrups that, contrary to their unseemly purpose, made me clamp my knees together like magnets, the speculum that looked like an instrument of torture and, I determined, felt like one too. Then, at last there was the encore, wherein the doctor — her latex gloves anointed with goop — reached inside me to ascertain further ovary-centric information.
She grasped at my insides, and I discerned, amongst the penetrative pain, a deeper, muzzy ache. There were nubbles, like hardened cotton — they announced themselves, told me where they lived. I tried not to squirm and thought, “Oh, there’s the rest of me.”