Poems

Tomás Q. Morín: “Nudist Colony”

Tomas Q. Morin’s latest collection, Patient Zero, will be published later this month by Copper Canyon Press. A poem from the collection, “Nudist Colony,” appeared in Poetry Northwest issue 3.2 (new series), Fall & Winter 2008-2009.

Nudist Colony

Wind-whipped, ear-clapped
by the rocky thunder of the coast,
they cross the wet grass
in burnished loafers, sandals

twined on the grounds
to drink and merrymaking.
Inland, they face the empty
hour between lunch

and dinner in a frail
building with a barking
door and incandescent
lighting that wraps the matte

surface of their trunks
in an amber glow. Sheets
of paper shuffle, chalk
boxes are laid out,

oils are stirred, sharpened
pencils line up in formation,
hips swivel and settle
on wooden stools

legged in metal. She
enters and her shoes click
across the white tile
as she assumes the center

of the room in a pencil skirt
and matching jacket, taupe
blouse and run stocking.
Her husband sets a flock

of gooseflesh up his neck
and starts to chalk her legs
from memory: his first
black dash and swipe

might be an eel
beached on blanched rock
but for the second
slash against the page

that frames the long thigh
and the knot of the knee.
She shifts her weight
from one foot to the next,

scarlet-heeled, toe tips
white with pressure.
Soft rock in hand,
he drags it slow

on a fresh wall of white
and applies the pressure
necessary to make her
more than a pool

of smudges and parts.
Wet clay in the corner
begins to harden
and blended watercolors

matte the predawn
run of the ribs,
the swaddled shoulders
grained in autumn

tones like the disrobed
grasses in drains
that suffer cold-scald
and wind-jag.

The wrists busy now
lashing and hooking
hair to the scalp,
skin-cap to the face,

drifting shallow wrinkles
at the eye-pinch,
southerly to the ear,
leveled around the neck

like the soft-piled lines,
ruddy-pale-white,
on the brassy cheek
of the dusk-christened cliffs.

Tomás Q. Morín is the author of Patient Zero. His debut poetry collection A Larger Country was the winner of the APR/Honickman Prize. He is co-editor with Mari L’Esperance of the anthology, Coming Close, and translator of The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda. He teaches at Texas State University and in the low residency MFA program of Vermont College of Fine Arts. www.tomasqmorin.com

Image: “Venus’s Bathing,” Thomas Rowlandson, via Wellcome Library, London