Naked in Front of Strangers #4
By Kimberly Nichols.
When I show up to the canvas it happens,
And when I show up to the brush, out it bleeds
Or when I glance out from the upstairs window
To see him planting trellises
For verdant green grapes in ninety nine degree heat
Waves in an earthquake-laden summer
The fragility of life calls it forward as well.
This is a time of friends who disown me
Because I disown the role of keeping them constantly entertained
Or seeding their penchant for dramatic overture
In a life that’s half over and not worth the effort,
Instead valuing the downward spiral
Of going inwards to that place where the underworld fox breathes,
Holding up palms full of red currant berries
And secrets that make the blood thicken.
And I kick myself for waiting this late
For biding so much time within parts unaccounted for
In the grandiose scheme of all that is meaningful
And it’s not lonely here although I am more alone than ever.
Looking is birthed from another bone than seeing.
Seeing requires a slow pulsing patience.
It’s the Persian sign on the main street hotel
Where little boys dressed up for a wedding giggle over a balcony
At all the bosom tops they spy from their elevated advantage,
Or the boy in front of the laundromat
Reading the Count of Monte Christo
At four p.m. on Monday
Across the street from the Japanese man throwing seeds
On the library lawn that will soon sprout
Strawberries and my neighbor yells
Shrilling things at the homeless man asleep beneath my fencepost
While I discreetly wish him sweet dreams.
My poetic panic is gone, my political unease.
It’s not that I still don’t activate often,
It’s merely that life has slowed down to accompany the breeze
Seen now through the lens of a large spanning arc,
Between the old sparks of ignition
And the mellowness that folds in beneath the skin
When one gives in to choosing one’s battles carefully
And with keen discernment.
Walking alone in the San Fernando Valley I notice new trees,
Hispanic men pruning their prized blood orange groves
While trained pit bulls protect backyards full of machinery
And the world breaks into a thousand shards of colorful strata.
It happens when I show up to the keyboard, too
When in blinding moments I am broadsided by grace
And by the soft yet guttural realization
That my muse is, and always has been,
Love, and I embrace it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kimberly Cooper Nichols is an artist, writer and social anthropologist living in Venice Beach, California. She has been exhibiting for over a decade as a conceptual artist in the United States and is the author of the book of literary short fiction Mad Anatomy. She also serves as editor for the socially progressive journal Newtopia. She is a contributing editor to 3:AM where her serial poetry column Naked in Front of Strangers appears regularly. She is currently at work on her second book Neptune’s Journey as well as a 22-piece conceptual art project titled FOOL.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, May 13th, 2013.