The First Man I Slept with After My Husband

by | Apr 15, 2022 | Poetry

We sat on his porch not unlike old friends
while sunset splintered into night,
ice in our drinks clinking, glass on glass.
I’m leaving this town, he said. For good.

Then he sank to his knees before me,
and I eased into him the same way as a teen,
I’d wade waist-deep into sun-warmed water
after shedding my jeans on shore. How simple,

with so little time left, to fall head-first
into what needed no explanation:
his fingers tracing the ten-centimeter scars
on my breasts, the pleasure he took slipping

one nipple into his mouth then the other,
something my husband stopped doing
after my mastectomy. Some days I wake,
I said, surprised to find myself still alive.

I miss you already, he whispered, his thighs
shuddering against mine, the dark lake
of night swallowing us whole.
Afterward, I felt the full-body ache

of sadness and almost mistook it for regret.
I wanted to believe cancer had cured
that part of me that cared about permanence,
that another man drifting out of my life

was just a ripple on some distant lake’s surface—
a body of water my body left decades ago.
But when I looked at the horizon, I wasn’t okay
to see him shrinking to an invisible line.

About The Author


Sara Pirkle is a Southern poet, an identical twin, a breast cancer survivor, and a board game enthusiast. Her first full-length collection of poetry, The Disappearing Act, won the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry and was published by Mercer University Press in 2018. In 2019, she was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry. She is the Assistant Director of Creative Writing at The University of Alabama.

Books by Sara Pirkle

Sara Pirkle Hughes