Written by Ellen Bass. Ellen, a first-time Jewrotica writer, is the author of The Human Line (Copper Canyon) and Mules of Love (BOA). Her poems have been published in American Poetry Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The Sun, The New Republic, and The Kenyon Review. She co-edited No More Masks!, the first major anthology of women’s poetry (Doubleday) and is co-author of The Courage to Heal and Free Your Mind (HarperCollins). She teaches in MFA program at Pacific University.
God and the G-Spot
“He didn’t want to believe. He wanted to know.”
—Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s wife, on why he didn’t believe in God
I want to know too. Belief and disbelief
are a pair of tourists standing on swollen feet
in the Prado—I don’t like it.
I do.— before the Picasso.
Or the tattoo artist with a silver stud
in her full red executive lips,
who, as she inked in the indigo blue, said,
I think the G-spot’s one of those myths
men use to make us feel inferior.
God, the G-spot, falling in love. The earth round
and spinning, the galaxies speeding
in the glib flow of the Hubble expansion.
I’m an East Coast Jew. We all have our opinions.
But it was in the cabin at La Selva Beach
where I gave her the thirty tiny red glass hearts
I’d taken back from my husband when I left.
He’d never believed in them. She, though, scooped
them up like water, let them drip through her fingers
like someone who has so much she can afford to waste.
Jack Gottlieb’s in Love
I’m talking to Jack Gottlieb’s son—my childhood
friend from Pleasantville. He was a skinny,
dark-haired guy, with a neck thin
as the stalk of a dahlia. We lived in railroad
apartments over our parents’ stores—Jack’s Army & Navy,
Hy-Grade Wines & Liquors. Now he’s balding
and quadriplegic from the kiss
of an eight-axle truck. “My father’s got a girlfriend,”
he tells me. “He’s having more sex
than you and me and both our neighborhoods
combined.” I picture Jack Gottlieb, eighty-six,
stroking the loosened skin of his beloved, puckered
as fruit left too long on the limb. Skin softened
the way I once read a pregnant woman—
stranded alone in a hut in Alaska—softened
a hide for her baby’s birth, chewing it
hours and hours each day. Life has been gnawing
Jack Gottlieb like that. First his son, stricken,
stripped down to sheer being. His daughter dead
of brain cancer, and his wife following like earth
into that grave.
And all the cells in Jack’s old organs stir.
The heart, which had been ready to kick back
and call it a day, signs on for another stint.
The blood careens through the crusted arteries
like a teenage skateboarder. He kisses
each separate knob of her spine, the shallow basin
of her belly, her balding pudendum—crowning it
like a queen. The sad knave that’s hung
between his legs, extraneous and out-of-date,
ill-fitting as his old vest, is now steam
pressed and ready for the ball.
Jack Gottlieb enters her over and over.
He’s a child sledding down a hill and climbing
up again, face flushed, hot breath
visible in the twilight. He can’t believe
her goodness. Life, that desperate addict,
has mugged and robbed him on the street,
and then she appears, taking his head
in her palms. He handles her reverently,
as though she were the Rosetta stone, revealing
what lies beyond hope. He scoops her into his hands
and she pours through his fingers again and again.
“God and the G-Spot” and “Jack Gottlieb’s in Love” were originally published in the book Mules of Love by Ellen Bass (BOA Editions, 2002)