I read this poem in the latest issue of jubilat and was delighted when Nin Andrews gave me permission to reprint it here. Read more about her and her work on her website here.
A Story about the Orgasm
after Robert Hass
A young orgasm joined an artist colony, thinking he might want to be an author, but instead of writing, he watched a certain woman all summer long. She was Vietnamese, a poet, almost fifty, and the more he watched her, the more he wanted her. He wanted her like a seeker wants God, like the starving want bread with butter and a pot of warm tea. It was how she moved him with her thoughts that drew him, how, when she stared at the ceiling, clouds moved through her mind along with biscuits and summer rain and dreams. He wanted to ask her questions. He wanted to answer her with his own tongue, if only he could form words like hers. One night when the woman was preparing for bed, wearing nothing but a men’s large tee shirt, her pale legs bathed in moonlight, she felt his presence. She addressed him directly. I think you have been watching me, she said. I think you want to have me, not just once, but night after night. She was that kind of woman. She spoke her mind. She knew the difference between an orgasm who lusts and one who loves. But then she said, I’m sorry. I have lost my desire. It left with my lovers. I had three, but they abandoned me soon after I had a double mastectomy. Lifting her shirt, she showed him the space in her chest where her breasts once were. She expected him to look down or away, to apologize and leave as the others had. But instead the orgasm ran his fingers across her slender scars, tracing her pain with awe. For it is the scars of humans that attract the orgasm. Such beautiful pain, the orgasm sighed before he stroked her neck, her lips, her thighs. All night he held her while she wept. The morning after, the woman felt as if she had bathed for the first time in years. A warm glow filled her chest and belly and between her legs. She felt so calm then, poems flowed from her pen. Swallows came to her window and sang to her as if she were one of them.