The Politics of Nolen-Gur1
by Ritoshree Chatterjee
Volume 2 | Issue 1 [May 2022]
I. Gathering: a Shiuli2 speaks
our skies are the brown of hollow domes where
only palm-sap drips in darkness
sleepless, we move with a hundred winters on our shoulders
and rugged barks – once our feet – brave thorns
to pluck clay pots from the cradle of the night –
our only silvers, squeezed from stars.
unclasped and spread – the nectar blushes in heat
smoke too, feels sweet from a distance
and all things sugar are often the colour of blood–
brewed darker than caramel welts on legs
our children frown when asked to climb date trees
some little feet – like those in cities – want
socks more than scars.
III. Sun Burns Leftovers
by morning, our toddy3 dreams all fizzle
to lands of endless palm fields, sated sleep
the gur – a base-born damsel of the dark
leaves the village in glass jars,
smears itself on sugar and cream in city light
all the rest are lost to night.
1- jaggery processed from the first flush of sap from the date palm tree (Phoenix sylvestris) during winters in and around Bengal.
2- skilled harvesters of date palm juice, the Shiulis span generations.
3- fermented beverage produced from date palm sap.