Two weeks ago I meet novelist and poet Chitra Divakaruni who was here for our WCU literary festival. I had long admired Chitra's work, beginning years ago with her book of poems Black Candle. After her poems, I began to read her beautifully realized novels, among them Sister of My Heart and The Vine of Desire, and knew I had to try to contact her. She generously responded to my blog comments and emails, all of which led to the invitation for her to come to Cullowhee for our festival. Spending time with her was a pleasure! At the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching, she engaged the teachers in a friendly, informative question/answer session, and her reading that night was a marvel of presentation. Born in Calcutta, Chitra now lives in Houston with her family; she teaches in the University of Houston graduate writing program and has just published a new new novel, One Amazing Thing. You can find her online at her website, chitradivakaruni.com, and on facebook.
The New City ( II)
In the old place, the soil was black from earthquakes.
Jacaranda grew in it, and purple iceplant,
things she was not sure would winter here.
At what point does one grow too old
to learn new names? Green ash, water oak. The sounds
soft as a palm pressed over her mouth, her nose.
She prayed for distraction. Felt guilty to say
she missed the roads more than all else,
the way they plunged from hills, not looking back.
On a new freeway there are no landmarks.
Driving, she felt her tires slide as on river-ice.
Blur and wheel. A sound like enormous wings.
The faceless trees were pronged by their unleashing.
Time, white as shredded letters,
rushing laughing past her windows.
from Black Candle, Calyx Books, Rev. Edition 2000)
(Chitra and City Lights Bookstore owner/manager Chris Wilcox at the book table)