First Melt


           How sweet the past is, no matter how wrong, or how sad.
                                                            – Charles Wright

I watch the icicles 
             unravel from the rooftops of this winter town,
everything       everyone         turned lazy toward the sun’s
yellow-gold tease.

Clutch of mud at my feet and I’m reduced.


Once on that field near the flat blue horizon, we sat
on raincoats, poured gin into cans of orange juice –
our mouths metallic, surrendered.

I remember the wide canopy of sky,
that incessant suck of mud, the tender shoot
of my heart.


On days like this, everyone fades, transparent.

Even that boy
sitting on the steps, flesh and stone and cloth,
just a smear of mud against the collarbone.

I walk past green courtyards of trespass,
filled with the smell of musk and breath,
the planetary motion
                                    of rolling under and under.
                                                The bodies left
buried in the soft earth, imprint of elbows and shins.

It’s the words that have dissolved, a slow-molasses disappearance
of everything I thought was finite.

At dusk, a red wash against the buildings, nothing but
the shape of a bone in my mind.

Neelanjana Banerjee is a writer and editor whose poetry and fiction have appeared in the Literary Review, Asian Pacific American Journal, Nimrod, A Room of One’s Own, Desilit, and the anthology Desilicious. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2007 and was a Hedgebrook Fellow in 2008. She has worked in mainstream, ethnic, and independent media for the past ten years and has helped young people tell their stories at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia and the San Francisco WritersCorps. She is a co-editor of Indivisible (University of Arkansas Press, 2010), the first anthology of South Asian American poetry.