Landscape

April 28, 2018

Note: This poem was originally published in the Yale Herald.

 

She has asked me to write a landscape void of people, pasted together by the color of the land. I am picturing tall Vermont green gray grasses, a big blue overhead. An anxiety, fear of illness weighing on me. I cannot tread into the landscape without worry of what my mother has told me. I see my cousin, thin scooped shaft of blond hair clipped right above the ears. She has no middle name. I have two.
 

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A glow out the windows. The walls are covered with images. The floors are carpeted cream, clean. I am looking at a brown woman’s figure. Her body is reeling behind paint, her thick hooped nose ring and perfect Bengali part, hair slick with coconut oil or affection. I am sure she was beautiful, in Dacca, back then. I am sure.
 

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Standing at the 125th street station as it drizzles. The air is humid and my feet are cold and wet. The concrete platform is a most purple tone, sky too heavy above rafters for me to see. Then there is boy with black umbrella and cotton red snapback. He looks pretty from behind. I realize his eyes reflect back blue on the silver bullet bound for White Plains. Oh.
 

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I don’t speak for fear of rustling air. I hate the lighting in this building. Amber tones bring out mother in my cheeks, round, almost bulbous. I recall the moment when I approached a Japanese woman at the Museum of Modern Art because she was sculpted just as mother from behind.
 

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The coffee makes my heart beat fast before anything else. The air is laden with grey and green, ivy tiptoeing over squares of stone and silver. Square is big but closed off, I swipe in alone to sit on a bench. I hope the jitter will wear off so that I can set my head and vision straight. My feet are cold but it feels like April.
 

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I am messy, bleeding, bloody, I am sorry, for feeling (this much). How to say it is not in the alcohol, it is in the base of my belly, the way I am built. I have to find another way. He calls me irresponsible. I try to get the complementary color of his perfect skin off my mind. I wonder about his middle names, his mother. Does he know they hurt motherland?
 

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I am baby. When asked for employment, my father refuses the astrologer. I do not have a star, say I am part Scorpio part Libra but my lunallity is almost arbitrary, is not reflected in the spiny construction of my body. My thatha used the stars to guide planes home. He fought the Portuguese. He does not hear me sing, hears his deceased wife in the colors of my voice, my second middle name, Vijaya.
 

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We are in Vermont, by a field speckled spotted by vitiligo cows. The grass is tall and I am thinking of Lyme Disease, my cousin Lili is several feet out, her blocky blue eyes meet the sky. I am calling to her, but she does not hear a thing.

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©2018 BY ANANYA KUMAR-BANERJEE.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLINE MAGAVERN.