Ayesha Chatterjee’s poem on Canadian Parliament website
George Eliot Clarke, Canada’s 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate has selected a poem by Ayesha Chatterjee from her “Clarity of Distance” published by Bayeux Arts. The poem, ‘The Last Generation’ can also be seen at the following weblink – http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/About/Parliament/Poet/poem-of-the-month-e.html
The Last Generation
We will be the last generation to speak
in voices foreign to everyone but ourselves.
A nation slyly swaggers its name
and we watch through windows and from the safety of newspapers,
eating the bitter fruit of the truly dispossessed.
Our homes are in the dry dirt of the missionary schools
that taught us guilt in peppermint paper and disinfectant,
that changed history to change us, turning
and turning us until we believed
we were better than our quicklimed, bloodburnt selves.
We dropped like flies in the independent sun,
through shiny-badged cracks back
into the world we fell from, over and over.
But the red stone benches are crumbling now
and the long-bladed ceiling fans stir other tales.
Our homes are in the phantom, rasping streets
mapped in yesterday’s rain and half discarded
even by us. In the sweeping maidans and foaming racetracks,
in the cinema halls with the laced names—Elite,
Globe, Majestic, New Empire—in the double-tongued
clubs and the temple walls, in the tinsel and the bhang,
in each of these we claim our stake. We carry our umbilical cords
with us, coiled in our pockets for comfort.
But at every open door, we will be asked where
we are from. We will be the last.
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We fled our homes
Fierce fighting broke out on our streets.
Now there’s no turning back,
Bombs turn homes to rubble.
We wandered for shelter for weeks,
My wife and I, two small kids.
We couldn’t take the stench in the camps,
Squeezed by thousands, hungry.
People going to Germany.