after Wanda Coleman
overcome by the stink of mildewed water in the sink from another dead thing i cannot bear to compost, i have been out of place for seventeen years / my countrymen do not love me / like no place even exists as loud dissonance / we are getting by in a city where more homes are built at the same rate as more people lose theirs / i have less spare time and i spend it flicking flies like thoughts / and wondering where to park in the cemetery / and forgetting how to talk.
burdened by the cuttings you left, they each die one by one / i cannot tend to them / others are still growing when you have stopped / my smell has worn off months ago and i have no desire to water myself / do i like you or your smell / my clothes are the same size as they always were, some worn more than others / once you see yourself, you can’t go back / it’s not about being sure / but about losing all my money to someone who was supposed to share.
i do not care if those plants live or die / i walk and the leaves walk with me too, scratching the concrete / the wind pushes them from the tree / water rising through the trunk / the ascent of sap if all you want is glittering enough to obscure the dirt underneath / we did not survive this together / no one will / these roads are a life sentence / my movement funds the bombs being dropped on people that look like me / my freedom pays for itself in the forced migration of others.
i planted a mango in a tire tread / it was the only place that would not get mowed over / i want to go home / if i could go back in time, i would / i get an evil pleasure from the storm, to know you cannot be outside / to know that i do not have to see you / to want that in the face of power lines down and trees smashed into houses / everything you have planted has led to death / the water fountains were all shut off and the sinks too shallow / nothing is for free but disowned or sold
LAGNAJITA MUKHOPADHYAY is the author of the books this is our war (Penmanship Press, Brooklyn, 2016) and everything is always leaving (M.C. Sarkar & Sons, Kolkata, 2019), along with her latest poetry album release i don’t know anyone here in 2020. An Indian-born poet raised in Nashville, she is a recent graduate of English at Belmont University. She was the first Nashville Youth Poet Laureate and a finalist for the first National Youth Poet Laureate. Find her work in Poetry Society of America, Nashville Arts Magazine, and Connecticut River Review, among others. As a recent Pushcart Prize nominee, she is epic poem collage stranger and break-up with America tour—on self-imposed exile from New Nashville; she doesn’t know anyone here.