It’s almost fluorescent, the purple inside.

A fistful of follicles, ten thousand between palm and skin.

When did I know my body well?

It’s gorgeous, the almost wet, the always-shine of it.

I can count folds with a makeup mirror.

I can make a phallus of fingers to clench around,

but that’s not the point of looking, now.

My browns shade into each other, darkening

towards thighs. When did I first know to look?

And how? Here it is, little lips bearing each other.

Here it is, the whole not-flower of it, the whole unprecious.

The mirror casts back thin slices and I’m jealous

of all the lovers who have seen it full-faced,

the whorl of skin toward tube, the tuber puff

of membrane. Here it is, spread with looking.

When was the last time I fanned out for myself,

and saw, my not-emblem, my wafer of almostwet

with my own two eyes? Have I ever seen?

I love my body blind and that’s fine,

but I want to look its entire handsomeness

straight in the face.


Naima Yael Tokunow

Naima Yael Tokunow (née Woods) is an educator, writer and editor, currently living in New Mexico. Her work (and life) focus around interrogating black femme identity & privilege, social justice and black futurity. She is the author of the chapbook, MAKE WITNESS, published in 2016 by Zoo Cake Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a TENT Residency Fellow & has attended The Home School workshop in Miami. She proudly edits the Black Voice Series for Puerto del Sol. New work is published or forthcoming from Bayou, Winter Tangerine, Nat. Brut, juked, Diagram and elsewhere. She is blessed to be black and alive.

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