the book of orgasms
2000, CSU Poetry Center
The Right Time
an excerpt from The Book of Orgasms
Sometimes we are absolutely ready. Always at the wrong time, but sometimes it could be the right time. We look at each other, and we know. Time to take off our clothes. It is most inconvenient because precisely at that moment my grandmother arrives wearing a hat with ostrich feathers. And my Aunt Sheila who hates men, says all men will want me until I am fifty and molt. And my father who thinks pretty women are whores. And my mother who is eleven. They all arrive and tell me to cross my legs, keep my thighs pressed together. Sometimes Mr. Repolt arrives, too. He used to close his fingers around my naked knee like a cat’s paw. They close in around us like a cat’s paw, and there’s nothing we can do about it but laugh nervously. Afterwards we reason, if we were to remove our clothes, we would feel the world press its ears and eyes to our skin, and we would go cold. Even on the hottest days. We would apologize for all of our wrinkles and the odd mole or birth mark. We would wish we hadn’t been seen like that. We know this because we never take off our clothes. We don’t want to take the chance. We have everything to lose.