Nin Andrews

The Only One
May 26, 2018 Andrews Nin

The Only One

after Yannis Ritsos “The Third One”



In the stories of old there were always three. Three who fell, three who rose, three who
loved the world. But in truth there was only one. How to explain?

There was always a first one who talked about the earth. He simply watched it. (But who
needs mere talk? And mere watching?)

There was a second one who listened to the earth, bending close to hear the winds and
the rains and all of mankind’s complaints. Sometimes he even cupped it to his ear and
heard our suffering souls swirling within, like so many fish trapped in a bowl. (But who
needs mere listening?)

And then there was the third one. The only one.  The one who neither talked nor listened
before she came drifting through the clouds, slowly, slowly descending. At last she landed
with a soft pfft.  It was summer when she arrived. A scorching August day. She walked the
sunbaked streets, the soles of her feet blistering, but she didn’t notice the pain. Instead
she explored the sea-battered cottages, the café’s, the musty air-conditioned bars and the
beaches where men and women lay motionless as stones beneath large umbrellas. She lay
down beside them in the sand, stretching out her pale arms and legs, thinking, Ah, what
When darkness fell, she rang  doorbells and entered homes and apartments and
people’s hearts.  It’s true—wherever she went, she was welcome. The people shook her
hands before folding her in their arms (they couldn’t resist her, not for a second), feeling
the heat of her skin, hearing the birds that fluttered in her alien heart. Strange sounds
burst from their lips. (Yes, it’s true. They spoke in tongues. So did she.)

What happened next, the first one asked. Did she die?

Oh yes, she died, the second said, pressing his palms together in a reverent sigh as he gazed
at the world, hoping for a last glimpse. All he could see from above was her dress swaying
on a clothesline, empty-armed and weeping, a single gold button spinning in the dirt

Nin Andrews’ poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including Ploughshares, Agni, The Paris Review, and four editions of Best American Poetry. The author of seven chapbooks and seven full-length poetry collections, she has won two Ohio individual artist grants, the Pearl Chapbook Contest, the Kent State University chapbook contest, the Gerald Cable Poetry Award, and the Ohioana 2016 Award for poetry. She is also the editor of a book of translations of the Belgian poet, Henri Michaux, called Someone Wants to Steal My Name. Her book, The Last Orgasm, was published by Etruscan Press in 2020.