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Masculine Sonnet

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, BOAATGlass 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.