Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

Poems of Colours, Memories, Sounds, Tastes and Smells


Poems of Colours, Memories, Sounds, Tastes and Smells

These poems bring alive images of twinkling jasmine flowers and purple geraniums; mynahs and mockingbirds; guavas and grapefruits to make profound comments on immigration and nostalgia; war and resilience, generosity and dreams

'down the street from my house a guava tree grows'
'down the street from my house a guava tree grows'

darn you jasmine

jasmine grows in my yard
its white flowers twinkling in the air 
i smell it in the evening to catch a whiff 
of long-ago girlhood that sits twined around a jasmine vine
in the left-behind land where mynahs sang 
this is not night jasmine claudio reminds me 
for the nth time
yes yes of course I tell myself
this one is another variety of jasmine and not
the night jasmine — sweet  wild  intoxicating
night jasmine and mynahs take on mythic dimensions in my mind
like I never knew them but I did in the left-behind land just as
I did koels kachnaar blooms gulmohar petals
and a wide-eyed younger me
darn you jasmine why do you evoke
past sights smells sounds memories 
make me crave gawky teenage with its
callow foolishness and uncertainty
god knows it takes a lot to get where i have —
a breathless flight over 2 colossal oceans
sweat toil tears rebirth resurrection

Color Memory Smell

It’s a large California grapefruit
Flaming orange on the outside
Ruby red segments inside
I stare before biting into it
Its juicy sweetness mingling with the 
Tart memory of Grandpa’s yellow Indian grapefruit
A grapefruit is a grapefruit is a grapefruit
It’s not a mango
It’s eaten for benefit everyone says 
Orange ruby red yellow
Colors explode in my head
Grandpa coughing up stories of World War-II
Of battles won and skirmishes lost
Of a river that turned ruby red
Life hanging in the balance
Does memory have benefit
Does color
Do the both of them together
I hold the grapefruit close
It smells of wild lilies and resilience clean paper and courage
It smells of today

down the street 

down the street from my house
a guava tree grows
in someone’s backyard 
i knew of it for years without seeing it
i knew for instance that it was a small tree
young happy and leafy and that
it flowered in january
bore fruit in march and that
it was frequented by mockingbirds who sang of long-kept secrets and faraway lands
of promises made and bonds broken and that
the guavas were speckled green on the outside
and bright pink on the inside
this spring they invited me over
yes for the first time in 18 years and 
i walked through their living area into the kitchen to peek out of the window and there the tree stood 
i knew it from its smell just as it knew me from mine 
I stepped into the backyard and walked up to it 
I plucked 3 guavas 
bit into 1 right away and
stuffed 1 each in my 2 pockets
they smiled i smiled
in my mind i swore that I’d always be generous 
a tree is known by its fruit
a girl by her heart

purple dreams

you said where geraniums grow
dreams abound
i took your words to heart 
loving nurturing cherishing geraniums
growing them in planters and in flowers beds
year after blossoming year
boy how they have done me proud
dazzling my yard with beauty
infusing my heart with friendship
as for dreams
they appear both elusive and attainable
more real than reality 
everywhere and nowhere
if only they were the colors of my geraniums 
persistent prolific peculiarly purple.
(Simrita Dhir is a California-based academic and novelist. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Rainbow Acres)