Hyphenated Identities: Lopa Banerjee

Lopa Banerjee
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 where she also teaches Creative Writing at Richland College and Texas Christian University. 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 has been an honorary poetry fellow at Rice University, Houston. Her book of stories ‘All That Jazz & Other Pathbreaking Tales was released on Amazon Kindle recently. For more on Lopa:  www.lopabanerjeewrites.com

Love Poem For America

I call you a crystal-clear fluid
Coursing through my veins,
Sometimes, you give me walls to shut me in,
And let me slide into devouring linens
And smells of shadowy rooms, the ebb and flow of sex.
I have drunk you whole, your silent fumes
And labels, your grocery stores and neon-lit streets--

The way I have drunk my morning coffee,
But our childhood is unshared.

You, for instance can never meet
My six-year-old self-swinging in a rusty swing
Running over hopscotch squares in the open terrace
And see the bouts of my father’s temper, the rituals of cigarette
Burning in our old verandah, footsteps swirling in the house,
The first rains that bore flowers hanging from the boughs,
The widowed aunt making the dough of delectable pati-sapta
For the Sankranti, and the surreal festive songs.

In the remembered wind drift, our presents collide,
And I stop, seasoned, ambivalent in your tracks,
Watching the cars blur into the swift obeisance of traffic,
The vernacular poetry that had exploded into the mouth.
I hang loose, somewhere between acknowledgment
And the steady, insistent odor of change.
I can never meet your splintered history of assimilation
Your postmodern lies, the curse and blessings of alien tongues,
Your spirit of ambition and your self-portrait of a day’s bruises,
Sadism and broken homes, your camouflaged mirth.

Here, I lap up your shores, back in my space
Between washed skins and heaps of laundry, and write

A love poem for you, remembering my suburban skin
And my ancestral ashes, the dusky rivers traipsing in between. 

*Pati Sapta: a Bengali dessert
*Sankranti: A celebration of the transitioning of the Sun into the Makara rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. An annual festival in Bengal and the whole of India.


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