Nude in the City

by Regina DiPerna


Your hands on newspapers, your hands
in your hair. Is your body yours to undress?

Or is someone across town sketching you
into unimaginable positions? An ex lover? The stranger

you brushed past on the sidewalk?
So often you’d like the world to be plotted on a straight line

of storefronts, glass windows hiding diners,
men leaning out of wine bars. But the world is a crush of color.

See scarlet. Copper. The color of lips, lungs. See
nude. See a man buying a cup of coffee

in an American city.
Now look at his neck, the shades

of flesh — nude, apricot — flourishing between nape
and Adam’s apple. It’s autumn and that’s all you can see

of his body, except hands unjamming from pockets to reveal
a quarter or some dimes, first in his fingers, then in his

open palm. You can’t see the muscles of his thighs
tighten, can’t know the shape of sternum

hidden beneath layers of shirt.
He keeps the ways he’s been touched

in the pockets of his jacket. You want to see him
slip it down, see his shoulders bared,
see him discard sleeves of leather, silhouettes.
But you can only see

a blur of light and rust. The city. The crush
of slate and smoke stacks he recedes into,

hands veiled in his pockets, then

hands exposed in the cold air.

This poem appeared in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 7, April 1, 2014.