Spring 1990 • Vol. XII No. 2 April 1, 1990 |

I Stand before You Naked

I stand before you naked, waiting to be loved.I stand before you naked and shameless, waiting to be loved.I stand before you naked waiting to be loved so that I mightlove you in turn for there is a Mount Saint Helens of love roilinginside me, all heat and pulse and rich lava mud! I stand before you naked in these carefully selected clothes.I stand before you naked in this hair, this flesh, thisluminous bone. I stand before you naked not loving youbut hungry to love you, or someone in your place. I standbefore you naked not loving you in the slightest (whom Idon't know and cannot in fact see for these blinding lightsin my eyes) but waiting to be loved by you, or by someonein your place. I stand before you naked waiting to be loved, thus redeemed.I stand before you naked waiting to be loved, beyond shame.I stand before you uttering words in our common language,which none of us has created, yet all of us possess.I stand before you naked as the swirl of water going downa drain cou

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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys; Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award; and the New York Times bestseller The Accursed. Her memoir The Lost Landscape was published by Ecco in September 2015. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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I stand before you naked, waiting to be loved.I stand before you naked and shameless, waiting to be loved.I stand before you naked waiting to be loved so that I […]

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