Quickly, Before I Forget

Naked
by Jennifer Michael Hecht, from The Next Ancient World

The reason you so often in literature have a naked woman
walk out of her house that way, usually older, in her front garden
or on the sidewalk, oblivious, is because of exactly how I feel right now.

You tend to hear about how it felt to come upon such a mythical beast,
the naked woman on the street, the naked man in a tree, and that makes
sense because it is wonderful to take the naked woman by the hand

And know that you will remember that moment for the rest of your life
because of what it means, the desperation, the cataclysm of what it takes
to leave your house naked or to take off your clothes in the tree.

It feels good to get the naked man to come down from there by a series
of gentle commands and take him by the elbow or her by the hand and lead
him to his home like you would care for a bird or a human heart.

Still if you want instead, for once, to hear about how the person came to be
standing there, naked, outside, you should talk to me right now, quickly,
before I forget the details of this way that I feel. I feel like walking out.

Jess Walsh (left) and Doug Featherbeard perch in a disputed oak near UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka

Jess Walsh (left) and Doug Featherbeard perch in a disputed oak near UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. Chronicle photo by Mike Kepka