Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay is a senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School, and she has been writing for as long as she can remember, with the help of her creative and supportive parents. In 2015, she served as the first-ever Nashville Youth Poet Laureate, and her work is under contract with Penmanship Books.


I used to spit out tangerines
onto the awning below,
drinking all the juice out
of the fleshy treasure chests
and expelling the shells.
The inside is all that counts,
I had heard. The chewed up
orange stars strewn across
the rusted metal, standing
out among pieces of junk:
faded gum wrappers,
blackened banana peels
from the people downstairs,
and my cousin’s broken
toy cars. No one bothered to
look for trash above their heads.
It was hard to clean things they
couldn’t see. And years later,
when I learned to eat the whole
thing, I only spit out seeds—
small gray clusters of no worth
collected in pyramid piles,
collapsing only when black
Indian crows made heavy
landings on the iron runway.
Maybe one day a kamala tree
might grow there, fertilized by
decomposing garbage and
decaying orange stars, their
death like a supernova
explosion that no one believed.
What a funny thing to be grown
out of yourself, made out of your
own ghosts, watered by fragrant
rain, leaves like open palms,
stems like outstretched arms.
Maybe one day the tree would
grow so tall, I could reach out
and grab the succulent crop,
and it all come full circle:
like sun stars and tangerines.
Everything from itself.

     [words in Bengali language, Kolkata, India]

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