by Sreshtha Sen
Already this poem is turning into what I cannot write: my brother
whose fingers would pet me to the kindest sleep. My brother who grew up &
I grew with him was there as he turned 12 the afternoon
he was so bored: his friends wanted some fun I must have been fun
he slapped me as many times as the years he’d spent learning to be
man. The hard taste of his knuckles. I will never forget
my terror plastered on his face—how he feared his own
fists the most after that what they could do had done.
I do not want to write about my brother’s hands which I love. I meant
to write about the ones that said I just need you to prove you don’t like men like
that or the drunk hands that squeezed a little too hard after I said stop please
or the ones that found my thighs in the dark of a cab or all
the others. I meant to say I grew up watching my brother’s hands
mold me into a better person. I meant even the gentlest palms have made me
kneel & heard me weep & hated it but did it anyway.
Sreshtha Sen is a writer from Delhi, India. She studied literatures in English from Delhi University and completed her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, New York. Her work has been published in Arkansas International, bitch media, BOAAT, Glass Poetry, Hyperallergic, Hyphen, The Margins, The Shallow Ends, and elsewhere. She was the 2017-18 Readings/Workshops fellow at Poets & Writers and currently lives and teaches in Las Vegas, where she’s completing her PhD in poetry.