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A Poem to Read and Save: “Field Notes on Intimacy”

It’s “Whatever You Want” week on Man Repeller, and Loré Yessuff, whose MR debut essay was published last month, would like to share a poem with you. Here’s what she said: “Poetry is my first love. It challenges rigid ideas about art and teaches me how to play with language. Naturally, I gravitate towards making poems, but recently I’ve come to enjoy essay writing too. It’s easy to feel as if I have to choose one genre, but I’m trying to cling to the freeing fact that there is room for both.”


Field Notes on Intimacy

1. skin feels like skin instead of a burden

2. thighs,
everyone’s, everywhere,
scintillating like molasses

3. words like
cinnamon and mango and June
4. mango and cinnamon in June
5. warmth is warmth is warmth, timely and tender
6. while in child’s pose, the yoga instructor rubs eucalyptus into the nape of your neck,
you exhale softly
7. the delight of remembering the tiny parts of the earth;
  the smalls of backs,
  the backs of ears,
  the corners of collarbones,
  the centers of palms

8. on the bus, a stranger sits a bit too close to you,
neither you nor the stranger speaks,
neither you nor the stranger leans away

9. cardamom summers

10. homecoming is your brothers’ plantain-mouthed i love you’s is wave pomade is Laker game buzzers is golden hour sweat is 3 am nostalgia about the old Kanye is i love you too

11. your mother calls and you don’t feel nervous
12. your mother calls and hollers bawo ni and all of your brownness coos
13. your mother calls and reminds you that
your name is not too difficult, that your name is a lullaby
14. a lover memorizes the lullaby and sings it from their belly

15. a crevice of light sneaks into the dusk and then a neighbor becomes a friend and teaches you the secrets of the deep like how to forgive your father, what love means in the context of pain and then god doesn’t feel so abstract and the earth sways in the backyard

16. with time, your body feels affection as affection,
and this is the bravery of returning to yourself


Poet’s note: Bawo ni means how are you in Yoruba.

Graphic by Lorenza Centi.

Loré Yessuff

Loré Yessuff

Loré Yessuff is a writer who explores topics related to intimacy, identity, and interconnection. She is obsessed with tender clichés like love poems, wild lilac, sweet plantains, and cinnamon-spiced coffee. Currently, she works as a customer service rep for a dating app. You can creep on her Instagram @boogieandblues, she’s probably creeping on you too.

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