“Memoir–A Poem” / Bishnupriya Chowdhuri

Like the skin on your four-year knees
your family of cats
had little to hide.
Your family of birds
father, feather, fairy mother
flying on a scooter
those early years in Jalpaiguri…

Where did it begin, those gooseberry winters?
Right there, nobody’s cat plunged
swift as fog and vanished forever.

You can recognize still
the gully uncurled into the evening library,
thin readers, half-shirts?
In your dreams
squeaky sandals
slipped inside comic book.

You would like to turn
turn through the uncombed locks
of continents left
of houses lived and fled.
Turn till your fingers are caught
in silken wings of a butterfly.

Seconds before you knew man-lips
mangoes blossomed on your chest
the city garden soaked in
crushed afternoons.
Seconds before they walked miles away
rust and salt lingering
bells of anklets, lost
sisters watched peacocks and rabbits chase,
(their) pearly eyes clean as stone.

Those years of early alphabets
bleeding heart, a flower
or, sisters in same silly frills.

It will be easier to heal.
Heal from Michigan snow,
thousand faces, origins unknown,
if you stood in front of the old house
to touch the rotten floors,
with your moonish cheek
heavy still from the waters of Teesta.

You know this, the tangerine spill down your elbows,
the blot on your teeth and tongue.
You get two for fifty paisa,
the sickly chill of popsicles
in Jalpaiguri.

Mountains closed
on your four-year chest,
the forest beneath your flesh
remembers half of everything—

Popcorns drop,
Bur flowers too
from your hands
into the lake.


Bishnupriya Chowdhuri is from Chinsurah, a very old and very small town in West Bengal, India. She speaks three languages which is a blessing and a curse on everything she writes and doesn’t. She dreams relentlessly every night and in color.  Currently, she is trying to teach her daughter the difference between life and play-dough.