Her sex life is pretty much over, isn’t it?
– a student, about a woman age 40
The orgasm that is like the pour when you stick a butterknife up the neck
the orgasm that is like office supplies
the orgasm that is like a petition
the orgasm that is like the last signature you need on the petition,
the orgasm that is like the too-heavy rock does skip
Kitchener, Ontario Kitchener, Ontario Kitchener, Ontario
across a river on the long drive home.
The orgasm that is not like the doll whose hair grows and not like the button
you push on its back, but like pushing it,
the orgasm that is clear as seeing you can get any thing now but not get back wanting it.
The orgasm that is like knowledge sinking in before it’s flown.
The orgasm unexpected in the birthing room
that is like melted glass
like the taste of iron after 20 years
the orgasm that is like Pat Benatar in the kitchen when no one’s around
the orgasm that is like right before getting to the top more than like cresting or falling,
which is how we are like a fargathering woolly flock more than like a consequenceless lack,
the orgasm itchy as a consequenceless lack,
the orgasm that is like laughter two yards over
the orgasm like before after hitting her feels bad
the orgasm like a redaction.
Like the frustration of looking at stars and thinking impossible but still looking.
The orgasm that is like pigeons released over an audience in need of amazement.
The orgasm that is like an escalating inwardness
having stopped throwing up after four days of sick,
which is like a Joy Division drum track.
The red-cellophane-lucky-fish nearness of orgasm like a curl in your hand.
Then the animal pulls so hard there’s the ground.
The orgasm round as lozenges
the toil of orgasm like storm watch along the coast
the orgasm that is like a bowl of soup, but without toast and good butter
the orgasm that is like turning on the oven and somehow not noticing the oven has no door,
the orgasm that is like seeing a video of yourself 20 years ago and mourning
the body you never once for one minute 20 years ago appreciated and
imagining yourself 20 years from now mourning the body you’re in now
and not able for one minute to appreciate,
the orgasm like your laptop is on reserve power and will go to sleep soon.
The orgasm that is like the in and out of focus—the here and away and here
and away—of reading,
“fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds and alligators and all the
animals that roam the earth”
the orgasm that is less like “leave her alone” than it is like at last to be left,
when shame is like slops you let drip down into your face and lick
the orgasm that is like climbing a rope out of the dark
like no line at security
like being unable to cry for years except while watching the worst possible
movie on the tiny screen embedded in the back of the airplane seat elbow to elbow with 250 strangers,
the orgasm that is like you
did not have the embolism, you
The orgasm on a gratis planet.
The orgasm that is like Balms and Jessamines,
like slips more than like rivets, like serge more than like calf
the orgasm that is like a stout lesson in how to chat with death
the orgasm that is like a hatchet stance
the orgasm like before you think, you put into the stranger’s hand a 20
the orgasm that is like seeing the largest flying insect
(scraping sound, scalloped on the wing-edge)
you have ever seen,
the orgasm that is like the flashlight on a hidden book after lights out the rest of the house sleeps.
The orgasm that is like weeding, you got up all the root.
the secret corners
of— no this one isn’t working, wrong line breaks/stops the poem
like the beveling, staggering, girding, veining, groaning
overhead of helicopters stopping, like the idea of
the orgasm that is like a great feigned calm,
like the snap unsnapping just now as I crossed my legs,
the orgasm that is like we still have so much time left.
Note: this poem is a collaboration among 15 women. The youngest, at the time of writing, was 39 years old, the oldest just past her 180th birthday.