Touch is Memory

By Shamayita Sen

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night staggering like an old woman with dementia, tripping over bits of memories:

his calloused hands protruding like wings coil snake-like on the seams of my slip-over curtailing my movement.

Touch has memory;
but this touch is a metaphor for my silence.

I shudder to think
I am to respond to my father’s doctor
groping me in his cabin
as a price for Baba’s well-being.

Now, I wake up
to my midriff stiffening with
acute pain.
The memory of the touch
writhing my gut.

I have carried this long enough
in nightmares and body aches,
in ointments and prayers silently mourning
like the colourless liquid
dripping into Baba’s veins.

He passed away a year later, a relative told me, afflicted by the same disease that infested my father’s lungs.

But there is no relief.

In my mind, that evening
still hangs moist like air heavy on my shoulders;
my chest turning stone
under cold stream.

Shamayita Sen is a Delhi based poet, lecturer and PhD research candidate (Department of English, University of Delhi). She is the author of For the Hope of Spring: hybrid poems (Hawakal Publishers, 2020), and editor of Collegiality and Other Ballads: feminist poems by male and non-binary allies (Hawakal Publishers, 2021). Her research articles and poems have appeared in various avenues in India and abroad. She can be reached at:

Subscribe to our newsletter To Recieve Updates

    The Latest
    • An interview with the Editors of Poetry at Sangam

      Taking down Poetry at Sangam must have generated a plethora of flashbacks of

    • The Usawa Newsletter February ‘24

      How JLF helped me with my undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD In the bustling city of

    • Artists’ representation of the human body by Ruchika Juneja

      the years of growing up were spent in finding ways to belong and belonging in

    • Preface to Mumbai Traps by Anju Makhija

      the years of growing up were spent in finding ways to belong and belonging in

    You May Also Like
    • Five Poems By Maaz Bin Bilal

      Nature Overwhelms A thick film of yellow-grey slime in the air — Autumn

    • Portrait of a Body as a Young Woman – Ankush Banerjee reviews Kuhu Joshi’s New Book of Poems

      the first thing that would stun you, coming across kuhu joshi’s debut full

    • Ishta-devata and Other Poems By Indu Parvathi

      That summer evening, the smoke of disquiet gathered between her voice and