Handwriting

A black file in his study.
Dusty. Faded.
“Parts are brittle,” she cautions.

My very first “letter to the editor”
from Minnesota, April 4, 1990
to the Calcutta Statesman.

The letter of my first arrival in St. Paul.
Handwritten. It’s January.
A picture of me standing
in front of Florence’s 1978 Ford Fairmont.

The letter with my dream
I knew she had died.
I saw her hands, her face like marble,
her deformed left foot — floating.

And then I broke my arm
falling on new ice.
Letters filled with errors
And that letter of becoming     an          American.

A geography of memories
tied with my mother’s discarded hairband,
each neatly placed
inside a plastic folder
that was once blue
or maybe yellow.


until that day

the voice is coming back
the face is coming back
the smell of dampness is coming back
the sound of the dragging blue slippers is coming back
the words of the priest chanting is coming back
the hands holding the white flowers is coming back
the narrow streets are coming back
the lamppost that was never lit is coming back
the Black Diamond Express
the last journey, the old country
the crossings of the seven seas
are            all            coming       back.

Each piece of the mosaic
small and delicate and large
black and white
misshaped and misplaced
are                       all                 coming              back.

A face that now is marked by wrinkles
each thin line marking
the boundaries on a map
are                         all                             coming                           back.


For Sale

Our new house is on the old street
not red but purple,
not huge, but small,
like minds
absent.

New bricks, new floors
new flats, new kitchens,
new grills on windows
like soulless souls
living.

Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt

And I don’t know
how to ever
go back
to that house
that was once red.

© 2017, Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt


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