Radha’s Refrain | A Poem by Lopa Banerjee

Note: Written during Holi last year (2017), the festival of colors as I reflect on the tragic plight of Radha, Lord Krishna’s paramour after Krishna left Vrindavan. Very subtly, the poem, written in a Roseate Sonnet form inspired by Dr. AV Koshy, also represents the tragic, monochromatic lives of the widows who live their lives in the fringes of Benaras, the holy city of India, worshiping Lord Krishna, as their ‘Shyam’.

Shyam, my heart bleeds the red of your scars,
This Holi, let me pour on you my frothy pain.
Let the rain bleed blue, dissolving my black moon.
Let me burst forth in charcoal rain.

Shyam, this Holi, let me not hide the tickling taste of black.
My moon is a Death Valley, calling you back.
Shyam, this Holi, let the monochrome moon be our muse.
Let this Holi be a war poem, us splashing around, fragile, loose.
My roof is tilted, sagging in a world of murky colors.
I grope in the empty dark, my skin reeks of unknown odors.

‘Raaslila’, the sun-kissed gold of your ‘sringaar’ evades me.
Oh, my coarse lips parch, unable to sing that song, lovelorn.
Sing to me, let us be ruffled, threadbare again.
Effervescent, let us catch the black moon and sleep in its boughs, forlorn.

All rights reserved. Lopa Banerjee. March 1, 2018


Lopamudra Banerjee is an author, poet, editor and translator based in Dallas, Texas, USA. Her memoir ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’ and her debut poetry collection ‘Let The Night Sing’ have received honorary mentions in The Los Angeles Book Festival and New England Book Festival 2017 respectively. Her memoir ‘Thwarted Escape’ was also a First Place Category Winner at Chanticleer Reviews and Media LLC, USA. She also received The International Reuel Prize for Poetry in 2017 and The International Reuel Prize for Translation in 2016 (for ‘The Broken Home’, her English translation of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s novella ‘Nastanirh’). ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories, her translation of two novellas and six short stories of Tagore is now a book in paperback version, published by Authorspress. She has also co-edited two fiction anthologies, ‘Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas’ (with Rhiti Bose) and ‘Darkness There But Something More’ (with Dr. Santosh Bakaya) and also co-edited a poetry anthology of women poets along with Dr. Santosh Bakaya, ‘Cloudburst: The Womanly Deluge’. 

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