The Quarry Lane School
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.
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