Intimacy Fair

Natasha Rao

The initial intimacy:Waking to parallelogramsof lightA quivering intimacy:A leaf, outreachedto save the gleaming beetlefrom drowning in the poolThe intimacy of the crowd:Running across the platformfrom local to expressTeenage intimacy:Sharing half the bottlethen half the gumafter vomitingDrenched intimacies:Wrists of rainextending from an umbrellaShoulderingstalks of sunflowersduring the stormBunk bed intimacy:The moon wrapping usin white blanketsListening to applesfall in the grass outsideGleaming intimacy:The shock of silveron the back molarsof a familiar mouth opened wideA blurred intimacy:Your forehead aftera broken feverA slippery intimacy:Swallowing baby squidchecking each other's tonguesfor inkUltimate intimacy:Moments whollyfor ourselvesCatching sight of my facealone in the rearview mirrorFeeling for the ripenessof plumsSighing upwardthen wiping birdshit from my hair

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Natasha Rao is the author of Latitude, which was the winner of the 2021 APR/Honickman First Book Prize. She has received support from Bread Loaf and the Vermont Studio Center, and was the recipient of a 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, The Nation, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She currently serves as a managing editor of American Chordata and lives in Brooklyn.

Chosen as the winner of the 2021 APR/Honickman First Book Prize by Guggenheim Fellow Ada Limón, Natasha Rao’s debut collection Latitude abounds with sensory delights, rich in colors, flavors, and sounds. These poems explore the complexities of family, cultural identity, and coming of age. By turns vulnerable and bold, Latitude indulges in desire: “In my next life let me be a tomato/lusting and unafraid,” Rao writes, “…knowing I’ll end up in an eager mouth.”

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