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Image by Anastasiya Dalenka

A Picnic

Rhododendron-smell hangs like an old French empire,

(almost as decadent as old Baudelaire

would have approved) down the slopes,

near the water stream and by the main road in a valley

in Sikkim north, to ultimately die

for the picnickers’ sweet petrol smoke


Picnic - a two-note birdcall

from the woods,

as though a Beethoven cover-artist wakes up

again, in spring

and sets the score for a cuckoo in falling major third

for his forthcoming pastoral

to be staged in Sikkim


We contribute

like the classical socialists to indulge

in a collective merriment

because we haven’t smelt so much fragrance, such acute

otherness for many months


It tries to remind us of Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’ herbe:

a female nude 

and a scantily dressed female bather on a picnic

with two fully dressed men in a rural setting,

profane yet interesting


Since then, we have learnt to forbid ourselves

from our own smell - the armpits and the heady smell

of our mistakes

in a pastoral setting though each one of us

is the last attestant

of something disappearing — rustle of leaves, the impressionist

spring, a ritual of feast, a sigh, the decadent sunlight,

a fragrance, our mauve desires,


some failed ways of life

Image by Laura Chouette

Sekhar Banerjee is a Pushcart Award and Best of the Net nominated poet.  The Fern-gatherers’ Association (Red River, 2021) is his latest collection of poems. He has been published in Stand Magazine, Indian Literature, The Bitter Oleander, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Lake, Better Than Starbucks, Muse India, The Bangalore Review, Kitaab, Thimble Literary Magazine, Madras Courier, Outlook, The Wire and elsewhere. He has a monograph of an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He lives in Kolkata, India.

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