Nin Andrews

The Last Orgasm

after Carolyn Forche

What you have long suspected is true. I know. It happened to me on April 11, 2013, a Sunday. My husband served me coffee and croissants in bed. Ada, the terrier, joined us and snuggled beneath the covers. I turned on NPR. Krista Tippet was interviewing a Zen master on the program, On Being. The Zen master said that all I needed to do was follow my breath. I tried following my breath. But my breath became a sigh. That’s when the orgasm stopped in, looked at me and then away, and then apologized. We’ve had a nice life together. We’ve seen a lot of sunsets. We’ve swum the length of three oceans. We’ve surfed the months, the years, the decades. I once held my breath for seven days just waiting for you to arrive. I’ve come ashore 7,732 times. And now I’m tired. Dog tired, as you say.

Outside a robin was singing. My husband listened but said nothing. He stood up and put on a white, terrycloth bathrobe. He looked out the window at what had once been the sea. We both did. We remembered years when the waves came up to the door. We thought they’d wash us away. We thought they would keep rising and rising, crashing against our shoulders. Now there was only sand. Miles and miles of sun-bleached sand.

I’m so sorry, my husband said. He picked up a broom and began sweeping. The sand was everywhere, blowing through the windows and beneath our doors. A single shell lay on the doorstep.He picked it up and gave to me. Something to remember me by, he said. When I pressed the shell to my ear, I heard the wind rushing through my empty rooms. I heard a tiny wave, rising and falling against a distant shore.

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Nin Andrews is the author of six chapbooks and six full-length collections  of poetry including The Book of Orgasms, Sleeping with Houdini, and her latest book, Why God Is a Woman.  The recipient of two Ohio Arts Council grants, her poems have appeared in many literary reviews and anthologies including Ploughshares, The Paris Review, The Best of the Prose Poem, and four volumes of Best American Poetry.