What is the significance of the title, "The Freaks," in the poem by Kamala Das?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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"The Freaks," by Kamala Das, is a poem about a couple (presumably a man and a woman) who cannot arouse much sexual desire for each other, and perhaps not for anyone.

The man has his hand on the woman's knee, which, the narrator says, should cause them "to race towards love."  Instead, their minds "only wander, tripping/Idly over puddles of/Desire."

She wonders:

Can this man with
Nimble finger-tips unleash
Nothing more alive than the
Skin's lazy hungers?

In other words, can he arouse a desire that goes any deeper than a pleasant sensation upon the skin?

The narrator conludes that she and the man "have failed in love," and that their hearts are "An empty cistern," or barrel.

She calls herself a "freak."  She seems to mean that she must be abnormal, because a normal woman's lust would be aroused by a man's touch, but hers is not. Since the title of the poem is plural--"The Freaks"--the narrator seems to be accusing the man of being abnormal also.  


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