(Poem 21 of 30)
The Secret Sisterhood of the Sneezy Feeling
When my father gave me the talk about sex
I was six, and we sat before the embers of a fire
from the night before, a party I don’t remember.
He spoke best when he had something to do
besides speaking, let love happen while we work—
morning, men, and the tools of the fire.
Everything I learned about sex and love and making
babies, I learned while conjuring a steady flame
from the ashes of last night’s laughter and song.
I love him for calling orgasm “the sneezy feeling,”
as much for its accuracy as for its understanding.
But then he exhaled a heavy sadness, and said
As wonderful as it is, the sneezy feeling—and it truly is—
there are some women who love it so much that they—
and that’s where our talk about sex ended!
Either because we were interrupted, or else
he thought his son too young for the truth
about some women, the ones who love orgasm so much
that they . . . I don’t know! Wear certain kinds of hats!?
Or smile in a special way? Like they have a song on their lips?
Or maybe a secret kind of fire in their eyes?
To this day I have no idea. And I blame my father
for my ignorance. As well for the tears of every woman
I have ever loved insufficiently. My father never
finished telling me about what you crave,
about your Secret Sisterhood of the Sneezy Feeling
and the things desire has driven you to do.
My father and his son, spellbound by the fire
before them, the fire we built together,
the one I see even now in your eyes.