Baisali Chatterjee Dutt’s poems, Yugen Quest Review, Summer Edition, June 2022

Amphan Trilogy

I. The Avenue of the Fallen

Taking a walk

through our neighbourhood 

was always pleasant —

even in the summer heat

because there were always trees

to shield one from the sun. 

Trees, everywhere. 

They made our neighbourhood

pleasant;

pleasant and green. 

The trees. 

Our neighbourhood. 

The trees in our neighbourhood. 

Pleasant. 

All so pleasant. 

And then

                                        A M P H A N… 

The day after,

tree after tree after beloved tree,

strewn on the ground

in big heaps

and small,

limbs broken,

jagged edges

sticking out

at dangerous angles,

birds mourning,

people mourning,

the neighbourhood — mourning. 

Street after avenue after by-lane,

bursting at the corners

with the bodies of the fallen,

the broken,

the dead. 

A few days later,

a pleasant breeze blows 

through the now tree-less lanes. 

People sigh

and lurch through their day,

melancholy sitting

on their shoulders. 

‘Pleasant’

ceases to hold any meaning now. 

II. The Mourning

The morning after

the cyclone,

there was mourning. 

You could not hear it

but the skies were heavy.

The trees that stood

after the bang,

                the crash,

                       the smash,

                              the boom,

bowed like children 

with overstuffed school bags,

silently bidding

their fallen kinsmen 

a heavy goodbye. 

Could funerals

be so quiet?

The chainsaws at night

made up for the silent grieving.

III. The Tree Outside My Window, an ode

You stand sentinel outside our window

guarding the park

like a Beefeater at Buckingham —

your flaming red flowers

a strong reminder

of their uniforms.

This nonchalant world

passes you by,

heads wrapped in plastic,

old muri packets

and the latest worry. 

Locked up,

we are forced to look at you. 

And marvel at your freedom. 

You danced like a wild sister

the night the winds came,

taking dips and bows,

a punch-drunk ballerina,

the cyclone bellowing you

into absolute supplication,

but

     you did not shrug like Atlas. 

On bended knee,

you smirked,

but you did not break. 

I will dangle my hopes on you

like earrings now.

I am at the mercy of your strength,

                                 your beauty. 

MOTHER LOVE

Firmly rooted, 

branches shooting up,

singing with the borrowed voices 

of the birds,

a tree is 

the earth hugging the sky.

A steadfast mother,

gifting us lungfuls

of hope

and courage

to face each new dawn,

a tree

is

love.

Wisteria

And so tenderly my

you grew to love me,

expanding in ways

to embrace

every hair of me,

every breath of me,

every flaw,

           failing,

           fluke of me.

Your wisteria arms

tell me I’m beautiful —

and I believe you.

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt is a domesticated nomad who writes, edits, dabbles in theatre and teaches. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies and magazines, print as well as online.Her latest novella in verse, “Three is a Lonely Number”, is available on Amazon Kindle. 

She eats chocolate by the bucketful. She has two teenage boys. Ergo the chocolate. By the bucketful.