An Accidental Appalachian – by Bakul Banerjee

                         “My heart’s aflutter!
                          I am standing in the bath tub
                         crying. Mother, mother
                         who am I?” from Mayakovski by Frank O’Hara

The grey sky is spread out over the earth,
crumpled, like a baby’s favorite blanket,
damp, grimy, and badly needing a wash.
From my high perch on the balcony,
raw sienna cornfields roll away from me,
hugging the heaves of the Appalachian plateau
as far as the eyes can perceive, disappearing
into the undulating horizon, bluish and cold.
Ordovician fossils are buried under them
like my youthful poems hiding in the steel trunk
left behind in the old country for another time.
Dry cornstalks are defiant, stand upright,
waiting in solidarity to be mowed down.

Down below the balcony, I try to see
my reflection in the simmering pool
but cannot. The oblique thought of leaping
persists, but I play hide and seek with it.

Bang, bang! The toddler bangs on the glass
door. The ponytail on top of her head shakes,
like an erratic fountain. She is holding up
a newsprint paper with her master drawing.
A circle with three dots inside. I am aware
of this togetherness pattern – three of us
in the pool. Her face pressed against
the glass, distorted and stained with tears.

Her sister lurks behind holding a piece
of red crayon poised to embark on her
masterpiece right on the antique table
with ivory carvings, a treasured memento
from a foreign city years ago. I swoop down
on the crayon confiscating it. The culprit
didn’t know about the mother’s hidden third eye
in the back of the head. I return to the balcony.
The respite of frigid soundless bliss shatters
as a shot rings out further down the valley.

Maybe good dinners for some folks. It is
the deer hunting season. But no!
Within minutes, the valley is filled with
orange vests, flashing lights, and blaring sirens.

I huddle my girls to the front porch and wait
for neighbors to say, “it ain’t so,” but the answer is:
“It is so.” A grandfather planted another bloody
red bloom of a dead grandson amid the alien corn[i].


i] From the poem, “Ode to the Nightingale”, by John Keats

bakul banerjeeAn award-winning author and poet Bakul Banerjee published her second collection of previously published poems, titled Bathymetry: Poems, in 2017. Her chapbook, titled Synchronicity: Poems, was published in 2010. For the past twenty years, her poems, essays, and stories appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies throughout U.S. and India. She has been featured at multiple poetry readings and workshops.