A Question of Nakedness

by Melanie Firth
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, February 2010
Judged by Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar


fragment by fragment, on a small scale,
by successive developments, cellularly,
like a laborious mosaic. – Anais Nin

Nips, lips and a chasm of whiteness.
A mark they call ‘birth’. Imperfection
that wants to love itself. All that stand-alone.
The great crowding physicality. How flesh
recalls action, but scars over the cost.
The questions flesh fold on, give rise to.
Do I turn you on? Turn on you? Hurt
when I press here. Here? The thigh’s mole,
will it answer to melanoma, to Melanie?

How SP30+ became a process of affection,
cotton sucking on a figurative field
of follicles and sweat. The occasional
horror of a deep metaphorical wound
or otherwise and the smug nature
of paper cuts. Beauty versus scars.
Natural regeneration v.s. stocking-up
on anti-aging products.

All the recesses I fear and my inability
to say ‘hole’ around your arousal.
Pinkness and rawness (that relationship).
The take-it-in-your-stride concept
of disposal, birth and of f—ing.
The body’s gumption. How it breaks
on time, indulgence and self-harm.
The egging-on of the virile seed.

Regret for the wounded animal
who leaves me bloodless, but fools me
into power. The lack of cushioning
on shoulder blade, knee and elbow
fixtures. The exasperation of a slow
scab and the fruitless study of palms.
The distrustfulness of wrists.

How I cannot really slander
or comprehend my nakedness at all.


We liked this poem for its generosity to the aging body in all its guises, its scars and scabs and folds, its furrows and deadly moles. We also like the innovative use of language and syntax: "The body's gumption. How it breaks/ on time, indulgence and self-harm./The egging-on of the virile seed." --Joseph Millar and Dorianne Laux

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