A Natural History: Nicky Beer


A Natural History of My Ass

By Nicky Beer

“Damn, that’s a mighty big ass to be on a white woman.” “Honey, you got a sweet ass.” “Your butt sticks out, doodyhead.” It seems that ever since I’ve been out of diapers, people have been commenting on the aesthetics of my generous rear end. Given that both of my parents had prominent asses, the superlative development of my own hindquarters seemed to be a foregone conclusion. Throughout my grade school class photos, I am the prepubescent Venus of Willendorf in the second row. In a video of my eighth grade graduation ceremony, my unfortunate choice of culottes makes it seem as though I am being tailgated by an aquamarine pumpkin. Blessedly, my time in high school coincided with the burgeoning grunge trend; dressing in enormous flannel shirts that billowed to mid-thigh allowed me to remain at the height of fashion while keeping my tush sub rosa for a good four years. This bashfulness evaporated with the concurrent revelations of Women’s Studies and grain alcohol in college. I also discovered group streaking, which led to a cameo on the front page of a regional New England newspaper in which a hearty hemisphere of my right asscheek can be discerned. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was grinning.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

The thing about asses, though, is that they are rarely ever acknowledged to be anything besides comical or sexy.  I’m not suggesting that my ass is haughty, or inclined to put on airs, but that it has many more moods than it might ever be given credit for. There are times when, as I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, it seems almost melancholy, recalling the doleful countenances of jowly, powerful men like Winston Churchill or Don Corleone. When it was lashed by a jellyfish off the coast of South Carolina, the adrenaline rush in the wake of the initial pain made my ass feel fierce and edgy and spoiling for a fight.  A cool spring breeze up my skirt can make my ass, even at its most cranky and wedgie-plagued, almost Buddha-like in its sudden serenity.

So yes, ladies and gentleman, mine is a big ass. But I implore you to remember that it is also a thoughtful ass, a mercurial, grievous, changeable ass: an ass of many faces.


Nicky Beer is famous for her rugged coastline, pungent salt marshes, and expectorating waterfowl. Plan your trip today!



“A Natural History of My Ass” is part of the Natural Histories Project. Click here to learn more >>

Nicky Beer’s first book of poems, The Diminishing House, will be published Carnegie Mellon University Press in early 2010. She teaches at the University of Colorado Denver and co-edits the journal Copper Nickel.


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