Native Place - Poem by Rochelle Potkar
Goa is a leitmotif of childhood May holidays
A quartet of perspiring aunts cirlicuing their liquid syllables
Small washed rooms opening to orchestras of husk and coir
from attics and lofts
A sonnet of rain over maroon steps, stone sofas, and green weeping windows
sandy-grained backyard ghazals of jackfruit, guava, and mango trees
Catholic castes and Majorda beach-returnees behind gossiping grandmothers and aunts
(my mother was called scientist, an elder cousin-tourist, a single uncle-bebdo, a widowed aunt, ankwaar kodi)
A free verse of carved wedding fish of an aunt's yesteryear wedding near a muddy déjà vu-ed water well.
An unripe mango, oozing blatant growing up languages in ballads of arresting tongues.
Owria, Mario, Maria - the neighbor's children
Who could walk fast and long through paddy fields, uneven roads without a muscle tear.
Goa was dragonfly caught in thick forest bush, painstakingly brisk, pinched at its tail
Biting at the bend of body - a Chant Royal, announcing the end of the holiday season
in raining June.
The same empty feeling of a house not being there
off Mae Dos Pobres church road, Nuvem.
A haiku of courtyard leaf lost over time,
a gleaming pebble etched wet on a wave receding
A roof caved in of an old Portuguese bungalow
where an Uncle saw it for a rehash of modernity:
stacks of cubby houses atop rows of reeking staircase
-an apartment building! (‘Like they have it in Bombay.')
A tragedy of childhood memories always sold cheap
A blank verse, final resting place.
No matter what the disillusions be,
return to a promised land.
*b ebdo - drunkard
ankwaar kodi - spinster curry (literal translation in Konkani)
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