Dzvinia Orlowsky

Why I Hate Nudist Camps
May 25, 2017 Orlowsky Dzvinia

Why I Hate Nudist Camps


Wayne had already flung off his t-shirt, pulled off his black Khakis to set up our tentI can work faster if I’m nakeda new weed in the wet and wild. Faster, maybe, but not better: he slammed things together, tangled ropes. He was angry because we arrived too late to camp near the others. Because our Ford Country Squire was stuck in mud. Because I didn’t bring the small shovel. Because that next morning he knew he’d have to get down on his knees, rake the mud away by hand instead of cannon-balling naked off the lake dock.

But there we were: in a light rain, surrounded by a scourge of mosquitoes; our pup tent’s left hip sagging, missing a peg; the zip on, zip off flap—gone. I wanted to call it a day, a weekend, I’m done! and head back home to our Triple Decker on Mission Hill.

Whats the matter with you, Wayne barked as he sprayed repellent on his skin, careful to avoid his penis. What he meant was: why was I still wearing clothes—jeans and a hooded sweatshirt, a t-shirt and a pair of sunglasses—even though it was after five. 

It wasn’t because I imagined a couple of skeeters flying too low, curious about the new sweet sweat scent. Or because I had told him Charlie’s here, and feared the absence of a tampon string would make me a liar. And certainly not because I’d feel inadequate or self conscious around the other “campers” at the Get Down Hoe Down, pot bellies split with Caesarean scars, squash-shaped sagging breasts swaying joyfully, or that group sportin’ softies at the Mister Softie Machine. No, I didn’t give him the satisfaction. To hell, I thought.

The next evening, his chest slicked from dancing, he’d picked at his wrinkly steamed hot dog on his paper plate, looked out into the mob of flesh, and said this is where we belong. That he’s not always going to look this good.

Babe, come on, he’d said, take off your blouse. Just once get out of that busted radio of your mind always stuck on some high-strung wavelength. The kind that always ruined the party.

Busted radio... Okay Okay I said, slowly pulling off my t-shirt. Just enough skin to call it fixed.

He shook his head, you really need to build up your shoulders.


Pushcart prize poet, translator, and a founding editor of Four Way Books, Dzvinia Orlowsky has published six full-length poetry collections including her most recent, Bad Harvest, a 2019 Massachusetts Book Awards “Must Read” in Poetry.  Her co-translations with Ali Kinsella from the Ukrainian of Natalka Bilotserkivets’s selected poems, Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow, (Lost Horse Press), was a finalist for the 2022 Griffin International Poetry Prize, the Derek Walcott Poetry Prize, ALTA’s National Translation Book Award in Poetry, and winner of the 2020-2021 AAUS Translation Prize.  Her and Ali’s co-translations from the Ukrainian of Halyna Kruk’s selected poems, Lost in Living, is forthcoming from Lost Horse Press in spring, 2024.  Dzvinia’s new poetry collection, Those Absences Now Closest, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in fall, 2024.