My sister was many things. A galaxy of ideas. An exultation of creativity. The radiance of hope. And now, the source of all sorrow.
Friday, October 16, 2020
The overarching subject of Cheryl Snell's Bombay Trilogy is the meaning of home, and how we navigate the intersection between duty and individuation. The theme of the concluding third volume, Kalpavriksha, narrows in on the nature of kinship. The following are questions for discussion:
The novel opens with the Sambashivan family meeting for a wedding between a Bollywood bride and a favorite son of the family. The union is joyously received, unlike the marriage two generations earlier between Ramesh and the American Alice. How did the Brahmins alter their strict codes of proper behavior in order to accept Lalith’s profession? Is caste more important in the Sambashivan clan than traditional values?
exploration of caste from another angle, Ram meets his student Anand on the
street outside the wedding hall. The boy is a Dalit, an Untouchable, and
immediately suffers an incident of casual racism at the hands of Ram’s brother.
.More cruelty follows in a sequence of events that has Anand’s father paying
the ultimate price of being shunned. However he leaves a revelation for his son
that changes the young man’s identity
and could ease his burdens. Did this storyline remind you of the current status
of race relations in this country?
Saturday, August 01, 2020
Many of these pieces are filtered through an almost elegiac tone. We watch the author walk the tightrope of our times with heightened awareness that the next moment may change everything, as in Kiss for the End of the World. She sometimes pinpoints presence becoming absence with images of disappearing: the fig that rides its fallen bough into a hole as big as night in Survival, or the Word on the Tip of Your Tongue. The relationship between nature and self is explored with appreciation and respect. Images of light and sound from the physical world often connote the fluidity of escape, a sense of vacancy, a poignant lack: the dragonfly outside a hospital window, fireflies illuminating more than a man intended.
Attention is the faculty that Simone Weil called “the very substance of prayer.” These poems attend to the senses, drawing us in with images that are precise, startling and evocative. The poet wends her way back in time and forward in psychological space. In All the Greens in the Wheel, the movement of time pushes us to think about the departures and arrivals in our own lives. Eliot says, “Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,” and Snell comes to her conclusions patiently, all the while condensing and distilling the perceptions she gathers.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
Monday, April 27, 2020
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Monday, January 27, 2020
Sunday, January 19, 2020
with its fingers, slurps the soup,
kisses with too much tongue.
It thumbs through my foolscap
with false starts, balls it up,
sighs and lies down with a cool cloth
on its forehead. All night imposters ring
the doorbell darting away like Halloween.
I do not notice when inspiration leaves
but when it returns, Sunday hat in hand,
I ask for some ID--
I am your ambulance, it says.
You are my car wreck
Q What about writer’s block?
what’s missing: the arm of a Tiny Tears,
her plastic Barbie’s plastic Ken. And if
she has no dolls, she may content herself
with teacups. If not cups, then saucers broken
on the tracks of a train rumbling through.
If not a train, a set of wheels trying to reach
full potential. Something crucial is yet to be
driven off in the darkened next-door:
her father’s heartbeat, a sister’s equilibrium.
Rails made porous and fluid as tap water—
a glimpse of the ghost in the hall.
If there is no ghost, a premonition
that someone will throw its words back
in its face. If not words, then gestures
behind the newspaper from which
conclusions jump. These are bad weather years.
Each one finds its own terror touching down.
scowls at the librarian’s puckered shush,
scrapes chair to table, grabs a book
that falls open to text ticked and bracketed
by anonymous hands. She clucks softly,
angles the spine away from policing eyes,
searches each margin as if she had struck
the marks first, worried that some point
might be missed if not underscored yellow.
on the pages, hard evidence that books
are changed by readers they change.
She slaps covers closed, slides the volume
into the shelves and walks away empty-
handed, reverent, her mind roaring open.