2 poems on Climate Change by Adrija Chatterjee

Updated: Oct 2


Commissioned artwork by Anjali Menon


The Dialogue of Deluge

Soggy moist mornings, water refusing to budge

Her fifth house this one

Reminiscing three years of dialogued deluge

Bamboosticks, girdled ropes, withered petticoats

Yet Komola’s water would refuse to budge.


There were officers here

The Thursday before the water would hit

Piled heaps of log files

Figures dancing around

Like broken chalks over her daughter’s slate

From last year,

She could manage to save.


They would narrate warnings

Like every other year...

Then forget them,

In rations and lost belongings

Like every other year....


Islands they’d call home

Would be floating around

In muddy silt of Ganga

Rising an inch year over year

Gutting them down sans hope of fear.


Suffocating her ripples in braided ropes

Her fleshy breasts serenading a peek

For Dinu, Ishwar and Gopal

Never missing a chance of brushing aside

Each time they’d lend a hand

Tightening her braid-held grip.


A councillor would always visit

With food and relief

In proportion,

To the one who would come

From another Institution.

Promising manifold,

One, to break the path of dam,

Of homes that’d no longer float along

Daughters of Komola and Beenu

Studying in schools

Not being washed away every monsoon.


She’d see the fish swim back

Waiting in her largesse of earthern pots

Kept aside for November

When she would not find rice.

She’d see them all

Snorkelling past her saved coins

Freed from the conceals of petticoat

Trying hard to save

Few pieces of this year’s clothes.


Each year she counted losses

In utensils, clothes, bamboosticks and ropes

Forgetting to count in

A mother or a seven year brother

Taken hostage then engulfed

In an Aila or a Bulbul years later.

People would come and go

Which her five year daughter

Would still fear

Watching corpses in camps high on fever.


Mid September already

Half the battle over

Another year of endless paddy strings

Dormant in countless drops.

Drops forever waking up Komola

In dreamt hisses of salinity

The taste in which her eyes

Would await cataclysm.


*The Sunderban area of Gangetic West Bengal, home to world’s largest mangrove delta, faces the heat of climate change more than anywhere else in the country. There are islands sinking rapidly due to rising seawater levels and sees one of the highest climate migration in the global context.

Commissioned artwork by Anjali Menon


She’d Wait For June

The last summer

When her body would endlessly ache

From cracks and parchments

Crusts of mottled leaves

Scouring across the veins.

She’d wait for June

Little knowing of unanswered hopes

Boundless thirst of saline tears

Refusing to give in.


Cumulo nimbus clouds, foreboding thunder

Prayers had been answered

This year and a way too far

Bags full of seeds

Would now need to find a way

Into water that would come home to stay

For the frogs had been wedded

Too soon in fear

Of burnt saplings, ephemeral cropheads

That would never grow

Wrapped in losses from last year.


They’d pound her in, one after the other

Seed after seed laid

Caring little of those already in there...

Asphyxiating,

In acids and potions of harshness

Bubbling in pyretic thirst.

They’d wait...shivering...

For the thirst to quench

In wells, taps, messengers named after water tanks

Sealing rarely those cracks

Still laying naked with her seeds intact.


The gates would stay open

For days on end until night came

To call him back into the fields

Watching his soybeans turn into weeds

Damp air funneling a fungal breath

Ceasing little the orgy of pests.

The gates would invite him

Into meshed abyss

Where creaky frames of his ancestors

Kept hanging onto rotten walls

Belittling the cheapest frame

Of a thirty five year old father

Latching onto walls of custom, dead in dismay.


Baritone footsteps, fragrant white flowers

Heralding a body after the other

Each time they’d trample upon her cracks.

Third year in row

That her children’s price would refuse to soar,

Unlike the mercury, unlike the rain

Divorced from each other

In untimely brown of the foliage.

Fire engulfing every surround

Ashes into smoke

That smelt some of dead sugarcane

The rest of water lost men.


*Regions like Vidharbha, Marathwada in Maharashtra, India, sees drought and sometimes intense flooding every successive year. Regions face widely erratic climatic conditions and thousands of farmers every year succumb to suicides due to crop failure arising out of climate change.


Adrija Chatterjee has done her Research in Foreign Policy Studies. From being a teacher to a researcher and a content manager she finally found home for her identity in the childhood calling for the world of fiction and poetry. Dissecting the various dimensions of human existence and echoing marginal voices in her small way. Her fiction and poetry pieces have been published in Telegraph’s short story, Parabaas, Active Muse and Cafe Dissensus. She writes both in English and her native language Bengali.


Artworks by Anjali Menon, who runs a lovely newsletter Six Impossible Things

 
 

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