May 16, 2018

Sneha Madhavan-Reese

TO THOUSAND ISLAND

The only time I tasted you
was in a fast food restaurant
on an elementary school field trip.
I heard myself saying your name, only because
the girl in front of me had asked for you. Her name was Amy.
Amy was confident and popular, and she knew about things
like salad dressing. I had never eaten a salad in my life.
Our house always smelled of Indian curries. I didn’t know
the names of different dressings, even that there were
different dressings, or even that there were such things
as dressings. I was maybe eight, it was maybe grade three,
and we were all on a field trip and had brought money for lunch.
I don’t remember where we were going, but I remember Amy’s voice.
I listened carefully so I’d know just what to order. When you arrived,
orange and tangy, I didn’t like you at all, but I was happy.
Perhaps I could find my way in this world after all.

from Rattle #59, Spring 2018
Tribute to Immigrant Poets

[download audio]

__________

Sneha Madhavan-Reese: “I was born and raised in the United States as the child of immigrant parents from India. I became an immigrant myself after my husband and I decided to move our young family to Canada. I often think about how my children are living some of the same experiences I had as a child, growing up far from extended family, with parents whose cultural references and childhood memories all stem from a different place; and I have a greater appreciation for the challenges, far greater than my own, that my parents must have faced. Though I love my adopted country and consider it home, I wonder whether I’ll ever feel as though I completely belong.” (web)

Rattle Logo

November 2, 2014

Sneha Madhavan-Reese

NATHAN CIRILLO

It is harder to lose something
when you know its name. See how easily
we can lose entire forests, when we live
in the city and never speak to those trees?
And how much joy from a bird we recognize—
a blue jay, say, or a cardinal—as a flash
of colour pauses to land on a rooftop.
When I heard of the murder
of a soldier downtown, I thought of only
my children at first: whether they
were safe at school, or alone, or afraid.
I thought of my husband’s commute
that evening, how long it would take
for him to come home. I followed the news,
the photos of paramedics, noted
which streets were closed, which buses
were re-routed. But when they released
his name, Corporal Nathan Cirillo,
I felt my chest crumble. I walked outside
along my street and named the trees:
the maple, the ginkgo biloba, the ash
destroyed from the inside
by the emerald borer.

Poets Respond
November 2, 2014

[download audio]

__________

Sneha Madhavan-Reese: “Watching the coverage of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s funeral this past week, I found myself reflecting on the events of the day that he was shot and killed in Ottawa (October 22nd). I felt strangely detached at first, as we so often do when we hear news stories. I tried to capture the moment when my detachment changed to the bewildered grief that so many of us are still feeling. ” (website)

Rattle Logo