Voices Within: Sekhar Banerjee

Sekhar Banerjee is a Pushcart Award nominated poet. The Fern-gatherers’ Association is his latest collection of poems. He has been published in Indian LiteratureThe Bitter OleanderInk Sweat and TearsKitaab, Better Than Starbucks, Thimble Literary Magazine, The Tiger Moth Review and elsewhere. He lives in Kolkata, India.

 

Song of oh ho!

 

At first, we traded our old copper, oh ho,

for fish-tail boats in the lonely seas,

garnets for extra-long binoculars, ancient cowries

for buckwheat seeds

and we left, ho ho, for the undulating waves

to catch fish, do business and raise

a family settled in far-off undulating fields, ah ha,

 

where every white frangipani flower had a yellow heart

            etched on it and evening clouds were deftly sewn together

for a feathery quilt, oh ho, in winter, almost mild

Then we slowly made friends with the waves, wind and the fish

 

and we knew we were earning a lot, ho ho! We left the seas

Then we traded, oh ho, all our yellow-heart frangipani flowers for silver,

mature cashew trees for fences and furniture,

warm quilts for single diamond rings, oh ho, extra-long binoculars

for a house in the sea-coast proper

 

By that time, the sea moved far by a kilometre, oh no!

Frangipani hearts and fish tails are now carved

on all doors of our houses, oh no;

                                    silence weeds out our conversations

in every room and in the neighbourhood

and we try to engage, oh ho, in small talk with common house flies,

 

the blue ones, oh my, buzzing in rooms, as if,

for a common secret in life, oh no, to be told in no time

 

Secret Winter Ritual

 

Under the warm sun - a tongue of fire,

we buy white hyacinth beans

from the bazaar

 

and light up winter

with mustard seeds, tender coriander leaves,

green chillies, half sliced,

 

and some dried poppy seeds

to turn

the winter into a shim sorshe-posto curry

 

A little oh post oh oh on the tongue,

a little see-see soo-soo

in the mouth

 

This is a secret winter ritual

to turn temperature

into a food


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