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Lalita Noronha

Lalita Noronha

Lalita Noronha, born in India, is a research scientist, author, poet, teacher, and fiction editor for The Baltimore Review. Her short story collection Where Monsoons Cry won the Maryland Literary Arts Award. Other awards include some from the Maryland Writer's Association, National League of American Pen Women, and Maryland State Arts Council. Her poem "Bar Talk" was nominated for a Puchcart prize. Her prose and poems have been featured on WYPR's The Signal.

Forty Years Later: What I Know

Let me say this about immigrants
who burrow through the earth
to swim in rivers whose names they lisp,
Mississippi, Missouri—so many esses, hisses, misses,
the Grand Canyon they fly over with paper wings.

I love the way they step off a plane or boat into a silky twilight
towing belongings—prayer beads, bamboo flutes, jute bags—
scraps of this and that, passports and photographs,
leaving behind scorched chimneys, banana leaves,
monkeys hanging by their feet from trees.

But here is what they do not say—

We will never be whole again.
We cannot, in truth, uproot.
We will grow fins, wings, scales, tails, water-colored third eyes.
We will use our arms as legs, heels as fists, bellies and backs as floats.
We will fill our mouths with ash.

We will chill our teeth
drink the acrid wine of separation
and sleep through occasions—birth, death, days between—
for this one chance to awaken
grateful, still surprised.


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