Kitchen Refrains: In Memory of My Mother

In the loving memory of my dear mother Rama Bhattacharya on the auspicious occasion of her birthday today, February 26, 2015. A tribute to her unceremonious kitchen chores, her relentless housework and our long-distance phone calls, over which we have bonded over the course of all these years. Hope she is in ultimate bliss, wherever she is now, knowing that I have learnt all the recipes she has taught me. photo (43)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

The oil splutters, the glittering bodies
Of paanch phoron, cumin seeds and bay leaves
Emanate a moist, fragrant breath.
The gourd and the potatoes, dancing in the
Indolent pan, with crisp coconut,
The way you always wanted
Culinary things, in their rhythmic crescendo.

I have learnt and unlearnt a lot today,
Vacillating, flickering, in between
Recycled pots and pans, my stained fingers
Scratching in the dust, searching for
My girly mouth, stuffed with morsels and juices
Of your presence in steamed rice and runny fish curries.

I have learnt your recipes well, Ma,
Drawing in the dust a diagram of
All the meals that we had shared, talking to me
Through the long sent emails, the stings,
The scrapes, the missed steps of my childhood days.

(2)

I park my eyes in the mossy courtyard,
Your foamy fingers soaking in the detergent,
My dream, a broadened highway leading me
All the way to the creek, the dirt road, the clothesline
The terrace where our evenings hunkered,
Your domestic chores stretched across
The ribs, the hemlines, the loops and curls of the house.

My eyes have taken in the ice and fog
Of all our spoken words, the lines
Curved towards hope, while I chop onions,
Peel potatoes, slice tomatoes,
Rice boiling over, gasping over the smell
Of turmeric, a chained melody that bleeds
In a kitchen where our silences grow louder every day.

A kitchen where my childhood photo with you
Fresh, pulpy and sweet, hovers in cinnamon breath.
I hold you between the undone folds of your silk saris
The vermilion dots of your quiet, steadfast longings,
One morning till the next, let me burn until
Your ashes become glistening silver.

I move imperfect, your daughter,
In littered, crumbling surf and sands,
Hungering for your womb, for one last time.

Advertisements

Forlorn

moonlit night

Image Source: hdw.eweb4.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did I lose you somewhere
Between the hyacinth and the ribbons
The pleats and folds of my adult drape?

I know you still wait for me, my moon
As the night flutters, the unfailing rose
Drunk with solitude and honeyed longing.

I breathe shallow and deep, my eyes
Swept away by stardust, I am alone
You milk, eager and firm, waits for me
At the shore of the night.

Between my trembling lips and voice,
Your song hides in the fugitive wind,
Slender and silent, you walk away,
Barefoot, soaking in the night’s last ashes.

Did I call you, my white hills
Breaking, sinking at the wake of dawn?
I return to the day, dust blown
Crushing sand beneath my feet,

You have sliced me to pieces,
I move, unsure, forlorn, in spirals
Of smoke as I call you out
My moorings trapped in the day, dying.

Footnote: Written for a weekend writing prompt on the moon, “the quintessential silver orb that steals our heart every night”, as had been put by my fellow poet Vinita Agrawal at the Woman Inc Poetry Project.
Copyright: Lopa Banerjee. February 23, 2015

Between This Life and the Other: The Rain

dark rain

Dark Rain. Image Source: imgarcade.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do my dirty walls rain, still?
Dots imprinted on dark leaves, scrawling,
Pressing their heads to the crushing dust of human pain?
Do the fingers still dig into
The dark, unfathomable whole,
Beneath the ribs, the pain, stark dead, burning?

Do the primal clouds of monsoon jump in puddles, still?
Longing to steam, to cry in small streams,
Ripples and kisses, running down, the deluge
Slitting throats, trampling my primordial breast?
I have seen the skin, blood, bones
Of the rain, hung on to thirsty fingers
Licking the pickled salt of a fleshy pain.
Is it mine, still?
Forgot its name since we last held hands.

Does it still rumble, growl inside,
The billowing cloud-fire, the necklace of grief?
The night, jumping, leaping, sticking her tongue out
For one last dance, entwines me,
Stumbling over, as I listen to mourning ghosts,
Moving around, in circles, the earth
A whisper of sprinkled ashes of pain?

The smoke, a translucent fusion,
Do I drink it whole? The murky waters
Ruminating on the slumber-buried drone of pain.
Do I shake it off like old dust? Here it comes back
Peels and hums amid grinning, littered rain.

The bird rests beneath the rusted bricks and walls
The flash of cool light, of rain, long gone.
The heart of the wind beating amid the dead leaves in rain,
I stand, smothered between the damp walls,
Breaking and sinking, birdlike, aflame, drowning.

A World Without Poetry

 

A world without poetry,
The concrete hammering of mails
The infusion of programmed chores
A day, yet another day shedding it’s leaf
In parched, scheduled coldness.

Collective tangling of prosaic voices
Barbecue in the summer heat,
Disjointed company of drunk folks
Stinking of the corporate fumes.

Shattered raindrops, where do I hide you
In the luscious spread of weekend delicacies?
The shrieking yells of perfumed bodies,
The flashy make-up of the powdered night
Hides you like submissive dirt.

The deep chasm of naked arms bleed
My unwritten lines buried under
The daily litany of unanswered applications,
Unsolicited proposals, boxed and sealed
Never caring for a reply, a nod, an assaurance.

A world without poetry dies and lives
Every day, crafty, stoic, plastered,
Waking in hopes of a startling twist
Of a delicate, lyrical opulence.

House and the Housewife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kitchen spatula, drops of leaves
Bonfire of the soul,
The light of smoke, burning,
Twisting, dead voice of the bird,
Long lost in desired migration.

Flames of twilight, faint kisses
Fall and melt, unhappy embers,
Hurricanes of dreams hauling on,
Failed, stained with recycled anguish,
Scars of practiced jerks, moves, copulation.

Breaking into waves, sobs, poetry of want
The doll house cries, mocking,
Moist desires trampled, endless rivers of
Afflicted hours. The breasts suckled by
Mortal flame of infants, born, extracted
From the life of fire, crooning, nourished.

Whispering, shouting incoherent, bursting forth
Like a weapon, crushing like an evening song
Solitary dreams cooing, alone, like a tunnel,
Flapping wings, echoing, rising in oblivion,
Dark leaves muttering, shattered, undaunted.

The Ripples of Life

lovers

Image Source: Lovers in Love-Viewing Gallery. Galleryhip.com

 

“The ripples of life

As they ebb and flow,

The beauty of my strife

As I let it go.

With open hearts, let me bleed and rain.

Sink into my soul, you’ll forget the pain….”

 

Life is full of stumbling blocks, and also pleasant little surprises packed, boxed and shipped by the wayward and irresistible forces of destiny. This Valentine’s day, I humbly present ‘The Ripples of Life’, a short fiction published at ‘Cafe Dissensus’. This is my full-length short story of two star-crossed lovers, Nina and Thomas, a Caucasian girl and a Keralite guy, who meet each other in a little town in upstate New York and fall in love, and grip each other tight till the end of the end.

I am delighted to present the tangled world of love between the man and his wife, and also honored to let you know that the Editor of Cafe Dissensus, Mosarrap Hossain Khan has written another love story based in rural Bengal, India, titled ‘Mehru’s Dream’ that is published here around the same time today. Hope some of you will read and comment.

http://cafedissensusblog.com/2015/02/13/the-ripples-of-life/

 

Together

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hand-in-hand, we melt in burning
Trudging along the sunset point.
Stumbling over, rising,
Ebbing and flowing each day
We meet at the end of staircases,
Running deep, swimming
In torrid questions,
Checking all our pockets
For residual money, candy dreams
Which can never be ours.

Gazing in the mirror for
Acne spots and strands of grey hair,
We are complete in each other’s
Jagged edges and faltering
Hand-in-hand, burning, melting,
Yet loaded and hungry,
We are afloat in tinted waters,
Our tarnished voices reaching out
In arid screams and songs.

Lopa Banerjee. February 11, 2015

Let the Night Sing

night

Image Source: Lifehacker.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows creeping,
The fangs of the night unfold,
Faint footsteps resound,
Silvery beams of moonlight.
The dark woods,
Dense canopy of trees,
The pitch black,
Skin slicing through
Silhouetted darkness.
Twinkling stars
Hissing sound,
Let the moon stay,
Let us make love.

Lopa. February 9, 2015

Watching Over: The Night

 

The flesh of the night hangs loose, stale,
Around the cryptic cities where I roam.
My skull, the tautness of my skin,
My bones, joints, the fatty cells
And flesh in between, the conduits of my blood
All dried, nibbled on, burnt away,
The pitch dark sky creeps, moonless,
Laughing with its vicious fangs.

Glowing was the night as we had soaked in
The sweetest breaths of her descent.
The night had shone in our bodies.
The two of us, young lovers, brimming with moonlight
In the city bus, gazing from the window
At the luscious asphalt sky.
We were returning home from a feast of a film
The flawless, vital light of the night wrapped us
Wandering, shadow-like.

Nearby somewhere, that night, black owls screeched
Serpents crawled over us, coiled around me in
Vehement strokes and shoving. The window
Of our moon-watching banged shut, inside the bolted bus
The smothering, the cussing, the shoving
Bathed me in blood. Far into the night,
The pallid moon crooned feverishly.
They kicked away my body, and
That of my bleeding lover boy.
Together, in the naked city streets
The pestilence of death hovered,
As we moaned—ragged, rickety, forlorn.

The nation adorned me with a name, ‘Nirbhaya’,
‘The Fearless’, a martyrdom I never really wanted.
I slowly died, my music died out in the hospital room.
The tongue of the moon licked away
The residues of my rotted flesh.
My blood crystalized. My parents kissed me between
The dead veins of my forehead, and burnt my body,
Or whatever remained in the name of it.

Stripped off the flesh, skin and bones,
My arid spirit roams, a nightmare
In the wavy, tangled wind.
Thump, thump, thump—my unseen footsteps
Crush the dark night’s crevices
I am loved much where I belong now,
Sheltered, in the dense canopy of the sky.
Deep inside, I bleed every night,
I wander, in the dark womb of the cities
In the dead of the night, I whisk and burn,
Speed across buses, autos flaring with huge flashlights
I know—somewhere inside every city’s dark trenches,
A woman is breaking into million shards.
My molten essence strolls and stomps,
Whispers my story in wrinkled corners,
Every woman’s living nightmare.

Copyright: Lopa Banerjee. Febrauary 7, 2015
Notes: My humble attempt, a narrative poem based on the ‘Nightmare’ theme…remembering with unfathomable pain, the shameful ‘Nirbhaya’ incident in New Delhi, in December 2012.

The Apparition

 

Death strolls along the rusty corridors of life.
Death appears like a bullet hole
Leaking bright, white light.
Death is the shadow, scattered, the games
Played long after dark, the boys grinning,
Fighting, shouting, shedding shirts.
Death is the boy with bleeding limbs,
The burning and dancing, frozen,
Shattered, turned into ice.

Death, the playmate that I see
Running, stumbling, falling over the bleached grass,
The blush of sunrise sinking.
Death sees the faces of siblings gathered
Over the holiday, raving over childhood photos
And Ferris wheel at the fairgrounds,
Looks over as they turn old, toothless, parched.
Death whispers in hidden places, rooms
His voice, a hushed shiver.

Death is the final suitor, lets you turn
And take it, without faltering.
The scented trail of bruises, as it leaves
A smoky grey, waves, stops and whispers.
The world is between them,
A mute and reciprocal understanding.
The body, the arteries and veins
Shrinking away, bowing, kneeling.

Death is the apparition, the secret scar,
The bare-boned child, small and burdened
By debris. The bridge crossed in the dark,
Floating away, reborn. Death lies buried
Behind my toes, jolts and flashes
Between time and eternity.
Death is that gorgeous, pitiless song
Permeating the vast room,
Counting companions, actors between scenes
How they suddenly cross over,
At the melting of time and eternity.

Copyright: Lopa Banerjee. February 6, 2015