Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

Somrita Urni Ganguly

A Tree Called Profusion



People call that tree Profusion
Every autumn it sheds its burgundy leaves like tears and illusions
Weary of living up to people’s expectations
Hoping to undo the sins of past lives through seasonal ablutions




Our sorrows act like fodder to the starving gods,
Our tears quench their thirst.
But there’s never enough.
They’re always hungry, always parched.




It is spring now. It might be spring tomorrow.
It might be spring forever.
But some of us will end up inviting
Raw winters on ourselves, anyway.




When we cry for a departed soul,
do we cry for that departed soul
or, for our selfish need
of that departed soul?




So, is this how it's going to be now? Day after day after every day?
We'll both forget our sun. You'll find warmth in the grey
and I'll learn to say,
That's all right, quite all right, we'll survive.




You had come, unasked. Knocked on the door, uninvited. You were let in. Given a spare key. Accepted, acknowledged, embraced, fed, nourished, gradually worshipped, and eventually loved. They called me Profusion. I had too much to give they said. You stayed and healed, bit by bit, every day, daily. And now you want to leave. Maybe because you have discovered that that was a magic key which only gets heavier with time. Maybe because you don't want to afford the rent. Maybe because you have healed completely. Maybe because you had always planned on leaving.

Maybe because you are selfish.

But remember, you had come unasked.


The tree called Profusion
Sheds its burgundy leaves like tears and illusions every autumn
Weary of living up to people’s expectations
Hoping to undo the sins of past loves through seasonal ablutions





About the poet

Somrita Urni Ganguly is a professor, poet, and award-winning literary translator, soon to complete her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She was affiliated with Brown University, Rhode Island, as a Fulbright Doctoral Research Fellow. She is the editor of Quesadilla and Other Adventures: Food Poems (Hawakal Publishers, 2019) and has translated Dinesh Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Firesongs (BEE Books, 2019), Ashutosh Nadkar’s Shakuni: Master of the Game (Juggernaut Books, 2019), and Shankarlal Sengupta’s The Midnight Sun: Love Lyrics and Farewell Songs (2018).

Somrita translates from Bengali and Hindi to English and was selected by the National Centre for Writing, UK, as an emerging translator in 2016. She was invited as translator-in-residence at Cove Park, Scotland, in October 2017, and in December 2017 she was invited as poet-in-residence at Arcs of a Circle, Mumbai, an artistes’ residency organized by the US Consulate in Bombay. Somrita’s work has been showcased at the 2017 London Book Fair and she has read her works in several cities such as Bloomington, Bombay, Boston, Calcutta, Delhi, Hyderabad, Itanagar, Miami, and Providence. She has been published in Asymptote, Words Without Borders, In Other Words, and Trinity College Dublin’s Journal of Literary Translation, among others. Somrita has recently completed translating a political biography and a five-volume novel-in-verse.

Somrita teaches British literature to undergraduate and graduate students in Calcutta, and has presented research papers at various national and international conferences in India, Singapore, UK, and USA. She has fourteen academic publications to her credit and is a recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund Award (2013) and the Sarojini Dutta Memorial Prize (2011).

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Published by The Alternative.