Open

Kanchan Naik

Dublin, CA

The Quarry Lane School

Poetry

from the Chaat House on the end of South Avenue

wedged between the Italian restaurant and

the slow-dying bookstore, the “Closing Down” sign

as solemn as a newspaper obituary.

the books groan against the window display, not loathed

 

but unloved, the pages intact, yet uncharted. 

but its red-walled neighbor 

 burns with the struggle to live, 

the  bruised walls blackened

with the spidery handwriting of the Gora.

the blade of spray paint slices through

the cluster of Bollywood posters, 

inky blood trickling from paki and terrorist. 

he wrote “go back to your own country,”

but the Chaat House on the end of South Avenue

is but a country within a country, where

browns and whites are immigrants alike, seeking

refuge in spoonfuls of saffron and cumin and

ladles of the brown man’s simple dream.

in haste, he left the Chaat House for dead

but still it refused to perish,

because the diwali string lights coiled around

the window panes still gently flicker

because the pages of Indian magazines still lightly flutter

in the bitter autumn wind

because tomorrow morning the tearful brown man

will still hang a plastic sign that says OPEN

welcoming a world so desperate to

keep him out.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

The detail in this poem is striking—poignant, nostalgic, and uplifting with its greater theme: perseverance.

Kanchan Naik is a junior (graduating 2021) at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin, California and the Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton. When she’s not doodling or writing poetry, she is most likely untangling her earphones or looking for something that happens to be -- much like herself -- lost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR