First Flushed Bout. A poem.



Back you go to your phone. It

always happens like this:

that first flush bout of open-endedness –

new resolve, app reinstalled, immediate

assessment of face after face after face

after face. Precious buoyancy before

this whole thing deflates around you

like a bouncy castle with a puncture.



Maybe this one with the blonde crop

and the nose ring. Or the girl in the

Hawaiian shirt, sitting like a young

Marlon Brando. Or the one with a

bob whose photos are indiscernible

enough to have potential. Or the

singer who’s a bit too divine-feminine


for your usual tastes, but could still

prove surprising. Or the illustrator

with her dog – no, she’s already in

an open relationship. Long-distance.

Wants something casual. You are

suddenly envious – wish you too

could miss one steadfast body

already, actively search for more.




A brief précis of bios while you scroll

before bed: emoji-peppered/ cryptic/ nothing/

love of gin/ nothing/ cats/ insta: [..]/ poly/

something self-deprecating/ personal quirk

that’s not too ‘quirky’/ nothing/ nothing/ joke

stolen from someone else/ “actually 19 NOT

25”/ vegan/ job description/ down to hang/

nothing/ bookish/ happy couple up for

exploring/ 420 friendly/ American girl in

London/ vegan/ nothing/ new to this/ Disney

fanatic/ “looking to…”/ looking for…”/ “Just

looking…….”/ nothing/ nothing/ nothing




You do not like what it makes you.


Then again, maybe there’s something

nakedly honest in it, this endless

pageant of options and decisions

to consider in passing. (Well, not

quite endless. You’ve swiped your

way through every available woman

in London several times before…)


You wonder at all the reasons for

being here: the need, ego, boredom,

break-ups, resolutions, loneliness,

insatiability, dawdling curiosity. The want,

– yes, the endless want! – for sex, for touch,

for conversation, for companionship, for fresh

experience, for proximity to the brink of what

could be a better, fuller life with someone else.


All of that abbreviated to a breezy few

words (if there are any), appearance from two,

three, four, five, six different angles – splinters

gesturing at something whole – a trail of clues

laid out in clothes, posture, the inclusion of a

party, a graduation, glitter, a bikini, coffee shops,

mountains, mirror selfies with the flash still

on, grainy nights out, a tangle of friends,

the crossing of a marathon finish line.


And on the other side, you – reading

and gleaning endless subtleties, a (mildly)

ruthless detective in search of enough

evidence to swipe right, each minutiae of

decision-making amplified as you think

about eyebrows. And whether you’d ever

date an actor. And how it must feel to

actually identify as an “easygoing person”.


– Rosalind Jana


Excerpted from Rosalind’s forthcoming verse novel (currently very slowly taking shape) on sex, intimacy, dating, and desire.

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