Lopa Banerjee's Poems

 


Lopa Banerjee is an author, poet, translator, editor with six books and four anthologies in fiction and poetry. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her family, but is originally from Kolkata, India. She has been a recipient of the Journey Awards (First Place category winner) for her memoir ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’, and also a recipient of the Woman Achiever Award (IWSFF, 2018), the International Reuel Prize for Poetry (2017) and International Reuel Prize for her English translation of Nobel Laureate Tagore’s selected works of fiction (2016). Her nonfiction essays, fiction and other writings have been published in various journals, e-zines and anthologies in India, UK and USA. She is also a consulting editor for Blue Pencil Publishers, India. Recently, she has been a featured poet at Rice University, Houston and her poems have also been featured at Stanford University’s ‘Life in Quarantine’ project recently. She has co-produced the poetry film 'Kolkata Cocktail' directed by Shuvayu Bhattacharjee, where she has also featured as one of the lead actors. Her works are available on her website www.lopabanerjeewrites.com and also in Amazon.com and Amazon India. 















A Memoir Springs Out of Nowhere 


(1)


Faltering, stumbling 

Unlettered years 

The promise of a runny fish curry 

The promise of a puja with rituals learnt

With stale flowers refreshed 

Unexpected Decembers 

In search of a home where reunions never happen anymore. 

A memoir springs out of nowhere. 

Starting in the damp courtyard where it was all a child’s play—

Worshipping the false Gods, rhythmic reminders in shrines,

Learning about primal yearnings 

And the smell of burning incense,

Shaking the dust from truant feet. 


(2) 


A memoir springs out of nowhere—

From the storm churning in the nomad mind, 

From the deceased mother’s recipes of shaak bhaja 

And the reminders of brewing it all well, 

The ripples of salt and the landscape of Bengali tongue,

The yin and yang of teapots and pressure cooker. 

A memoir springs out of nowhere—

From the body where the first clods of red earth appeared

To the body that rained, frosted and then thawed again, 

between continents. 

From the sweaty hands, losing control over 

the verdant staircases of girlhood, 

and the alien steering wheels. 


(3) 

The scent of New York, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas,

Florida, California, Arkansas

The colors and strokes of four walls, of makeshift hotel stays. 

Metamorphosis of storms and crisp skies

breaking up into home, shelter, refuge. 

A memoir springs out of nowhere—

From the urgency of kilometers 

to the stoic acceptance of miles,

From the night shifts in between transits

to the smudged settling in adopted homes. 


Shaak Bhaja: A Bengali delicacy of spinach stir-fried with eggplants and Indian spices. 


 Sun Temple, Konark


January 2020 


When the rocks and the divine sculptures engraved in them breathe poetry, 

Do you need the aid of verses in concocted words?

When divinity spells its untainted songs in a mosaic of figurines, 

Quaint and mighty in the same breath, 

Do you need the Gita, the Bible, the holy Quran?

When Prakriti and Purusha, the elemental man and woman 

Converge in a volcanic ocean of wants,

Do you need any other melody, a divine rhapsody of some other form, 

More voluptuous, eroding your senses, your faith in all-encompassing love?


Konark, am I your courageous, piercing need,

Your bursting sunshine, the wrenching pain of centuries when you evolved?

Am I the spurious birth of a dream in the palm of your hands 

As the world breaks open in a thwarted call for a revolution?

Am I the evening prayer of the woman in her high tide, 

Or the bitter, twisted lies that she wraps around her to feed parochial urges?

I keep my bejeweled tears,

the depth of my bosom,

the womb of my history

At your feet, and leave you for now.

Let me come back to you again in another lifetime, years old and starving.

Let me come back as revolutions keep brewing,

As you wax and wane, explode fiercely, wrenching out smiles, 

Your unclipped verses of freedom.


The Unforgiving Rain 


[My small poetic tribute to torchbearers and dreamers, women who dared to dream, unforgiving and unwavering, no matter what their ancestral histories have taught them.]


Thump, thump, thump,

The colicky dreams rise, unforgiving 

Burst open against the swallowing silence of nihilism. 


Instantaneous, uncowering 

In heat, dust and sweat, the drumbeats go on 

As they dance on the edge, avalanches of unforgiving blasphemy. 


The unforgiving rain 

The sister storms in the wooded trails 

Know their mettle. They’ve stayed in place for thousand years. 


Forgiveness is saintly.

But only the unforgiving queens know that to be humane, 

They would wriggle themselves into the arms of an unapologetic thunder. 


Smelling of blood 

And a wasteland of stories of forebearers forgiving every grain 

Of perpetual sin, they unleash the unforgiving showers and the world gives in.


 All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. June 17, 2021  

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