March 14, 2012 by The Citron Review

by Carine Topal


I was naked from the start
showering among strangers
against a backdrop of ocean
and sky, strangers who held nothing

back when dropping their towels to step foot
into the baths. Though my muscles relaxed
and my blood vessels widened,  I smelled
like a cocktail of rheumatic healing, a pale

mammal going white in sulphur and brine.
One blond Adonis stood at the neck of the pool
legs crossed penis dangling like a folded lily.
I could not help but turn to look at it.

When I’d had enough of him I turned again
to look at the sea pressured on three sides
by the bluffs of Big Sur. I promised I’d write
about this: the sharp palisades edged into the Pacific,

the moon hanging low in the night. And when I turned
away from the moon I’d come to tell about, he was gone
and only his wet footprint remained
proof that such beauty existed.


Carine’s work has appeared in Caliban, Oberon, Pacific Review, and Greensboro Review, just to name a few. In 2005, Carine was awarded a residency at Hedgebrook, and a fellowship to study in St. Petersburg, Russia. She is the recipient of numerous poetry awards, including the 2007 Robert G. Cohn Prose Poetry Award from California Arts and Letters, from which a special edition chapbook, “Bed of Want,” was published. Her 3rd collection of poetry, “In the Heaven of Never Before,” was published in December, 2008, by Moon Tide Press. Carine was honored with the Excellence in Arts Award from the City of Torrance, California. She teaches poetry to adults and children and memoir to seniors in the Palm Springs and LA areas. Carine can be found online at


  1. Ah, Carine, this is how I think of Esalen. The vast world, our puny and beautiful words. Captured.

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IMAGE CREDIT: Jill Katherine Chmelko. Protest Road, Winter. 2019.

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