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Spring Insignia by Jhilam Chttaraj

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World Poetry Day Special

Jhilam Chattaraj is an academic and poet based in Hyderabad. Her works have been published in Ariel, Calyx, New Contrast, World Literature Today, Colorado Review, One Art Poetry Journal, Asian Cha, and Voice and Verse among others.

Spring Insignia

Memories of March 

“Nathless he so endur’d, till on the Beach
Of that inflamed Sea, he stood and call’d
His Legions, Angel Forms, who lay intrans’t
Thick as Autumnal Leaves that strow the Brooks
In Vallombrosa…”

—John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I

Rows of Ceylon Oaks adorn the asphalt paths of Durgapur, West Bengal. In Spring, the leaves burn red, fade into yellow, and finally lie collapsed on the earth. The soil is covered with a thick blanket of dry foliage and their sight reminds me of the above lines by John Milton; they are the ‘fallen angels’ of my past. I spent my childhood in Durgapur – a steel township designed by Joseph Allen Stein and Benjamin Polk in 1955. Each year, in March, my birth month, I endeavour to return to this spectacular sight—the ‘fall colours’ of spring. The skies of Durgapur are indefinitely seized by smoke rising from distant factory furnaces, yet in spring, the changing hues of leaves replace the grim with cheerful visions. I am stupefied at the sight of whirling red beauties — inflamed dragons, floating across the sky. They enliven phantoms of my past self—the little girl consumed by dreams, cycling through sunny roads, in a blue skirt and a red sweater. The demure charm of the township is capsized by a mutiny of shades. And I believe, each soul that ever witnessed the red blaze of the trees shedding their songs, carry the mutiny within them. This is an insignia; an indication of change.

On World Poetry Day, I share Seven Cinquain Variants (; tiny word-castles on the poetry of spring!



tongues swirl seasons

of Ceylon Oaks — blue skirts,

red hoods mimic their anarchy —

school days



Rows of


rustle, lure lovers of

Durgapur— my leaf-red heart leaps —

pure joy



Smog owns

the farthest sphere.

Kilns exhale poisoned clouds

yet the city blooms — Spring-birds chant,





sweeps the city—

clusters of mellow leaves

stage a dramatic fall—we pile




Roads shoot

like shafts of pride.

Once, I raced against a

town’s silence—shared with spring allies—

bruised joy




fall from Eden’s

boughs—copper carnivals

seize the soul’s cleansing—earthlings pray

for peace



Shades of


stir foliage-feasts—winds

emend spring’s catalogue —I raise

art storms

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