Touch

By Hugh Dunkerley

We’re forbidden the language of touch,
can no longer translate our need
into hug, kiss or simple handshake,
must keep our distance and breathe
through masks of dumb cotton.
Every other body is a potentially
lethal weapon and must be treated
as such. We live on screens, pixelated
simulacra of embodied selves,
voices reanimated through the witchcraft
of the digital, but it’s no match
for an arm of comfort on a shoulder,
the syntax of a caress, the bliss
of one body speaking to another.

I have published two collections of poetry, Hare and Kin, both with Cinnamon Press. I teach at the University of Chichester and live in Brighton.

I wrote this poem during the first lockdown, when I couldn’t see or hug my elderly parents. I find reading poetry can, as Robert Frost said, be ‘a momentary stay against confusion.’

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Cathy Mark
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Cathy Mark
9 months ago

Hugh, so glad to have found this poem online. Good to read it again. Resonates deeply as we find ourselves in lockdown 3. Thanks for sharing at yesterday’s Waterloo Press book launch. – Catherine O

Samuel Ephraim Edward
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Samuel Ephraim Edward
11 months ago

A literal representation of the ugly realities we’re facing. Vividly expressed with reasonable cues. Dear Hugh, we are such getting of this malady. Just be optimistic.

Hugh Dunkerley
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Hugh Dunkerley
11 months ago

Hi Samuel, thanks for your encouraging words.

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