Indira Ganesan, Paternal line, 2016
Indira Ganesan, Paternal line, 2016
A ritual that occurs at some point in most of our lives is clearing the home after the death of a parent.  I am helping my mom this weekend clear closets and drawers to help get ready to put her house on the market.  We move slowly.  We stop and read letters, look at diplomas and photographs, and argue over garbage bags.  In the back of almirah, we find a file full of letters from my grandfather, who exhorted my father to save money and not come back too quickly to India.  My father listened. When we finally made the return trip, my grandfather had passed away.  Now, my mother is left with one brother, and me and my brother, and a host of nieces and nephews from siblings and cousins.

Friends and neighbors visit during the day, bringing food and gifts, amid the half-filled boxes and trash bags headed for donation sites. Should we keep the animals made of shells that my late aunt presented us with long ago? Do we say thank you, Kondo-style, and toss? What of the funny clock I got as a nine -year-old, shaped like a totem pole, with plastic eyes that moved with each tick and tock? Hundreds of books, notebooks filled with sudoku, a bag of gift bags and bows? Clothing and shoes are easy to toss, but the ceramics we made as kids?  The hand-made cards? We make tea, eat biscuits, work some more.

Why are there bunny ears in the closet? A relic of my brother’s P-race fare, along with a plastic orange lei.  Toss. A box of albums by America, Renaissance, Jethro Tull, but wait–there is the boxed set of Sandy Denny, The White Album, and the Sex Pistols. Keep. Cassettes– loving made, traded, played? Toss.

Old perfume bottles, knitting needles, sewing kits from hotels.  Photographs. Diplomas.  Paintings from my niece from the first ten years of her life.  My doll Henrietta, with bandaged arms and legs, with clothes sewn by mother, including a fashionable blue corduroy coat, a garden-print dress, and overalls with a tiny jacket to match. I get lost, dreamy, besieged by memory, acute attachment.

Dad.  What have you done to us to make us pack up way before we thought you would?

Snow, Snowflake, Snow

Of course it came,

in thick wet flakes,

this ballet, this March.

Indira Ganesan, Dreams of Tibet, 2016

Indira Ganesan,Tulips in snow, 2016  Indira Ganesan, More Tulips in Snow, 2016
Indira Ganesan, Under the Arch, 2016 Indira Ganesan, Snow Bell on Left, 2016

Roots, Shoots, and Leaves

Of course, spring is

what’s  slowly rising in the garden,

while  snow hazards tomorrow.

Secret garden, 2016

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Roaring ocean


The roar was so loud I heard in the parking lot last night, when I got home from somewhere.  What laugh was this in the sky?  It was the ocean, whose wild crashing waves called fiercely.  Write poems, breathe, run with your brand new sneakers.  I heard the coyotes circle and bark other days– I think it is a family of young pups whose mother only has three legs– and the horses snoring like elephants.  Tomorrow in class we will discuss poems by Li-young Lee.  I want to tell the students this is their rare life chance to read beauty, to breathe the breath of a poet, to think.

Here are his lines:

…where there is rain/there is time and memory, and sometimes sweetness.

While the long grain is softening/ in the water, gurgling/ over a low stove flame…

Of wisdom, splendid columns of light/ waking sweet foreheads/ I know nothing/ but what I’ve glimpsed in my most hopeful of daydreams.

How could they not want to read those?

An incessant songbird plies its tune, mellowed by the chirps from other branches.  Sometimes where I live, it is so quiet I can only hear the refrigerator hum.

One cat is hiding near the ceiling, and the other blinks, stretching her paw out like a queen.  They are waiting for dinner, which will come today an hour early. The lost hour slips by, like a girl on her way to dance class, shoulders hunched, eyes averted.  Already March, Spring readies to let down her hair and twirl.


Three Whistle Potatoes


For a few weeks now, I’ve harbored a craving for alu mutter, that glorious Punjabi dish of potato and peas soaked in a tomato based sauce tinged with cumin, coriander, mustard, asafeodita, red pepper, garlic, ginger, and onion.  There you have it, the ingredients for a dish to be sopped by handfuls of poori, that delicate wheat bread that puffs up to a golden pillow in hot oil.  I looked for a recipe online, and found one that began with ” cook the potato in the pressure cooker for three whistles.  I looked for another, and made do with a curry I assembled quickly from an Australian transplanted from India and naan from Shop Rite.  Then I settled in to watch the new BBC War and Peace, in which Natasha dances at the ball.