March Poetry: "Ilha Formosa" by Rita Banerjee

March 15, 2017

Photo Credit: Mark Kao via Flickr

This March—a season of spring, of sloughing off the dead weight of winter and examining our year’s progress—we offer Rita Banerjee’s meditative and magical profile of the “Ilha Formosa” that “knows / more than sulfur and air and water shift / between earth and its beautiful blue fringe—”. This poem quiets the clamor of our blue-lit lives so we can catch the “rhythm of the blood-beat” in the South Pacific. Banerjee teaches us to see what the eye “almost misses”: not only the mountain, but also “your own face grown thick” reflected in that mountain and in the entire natural world around us.

—Eugenia Leigh, Poetry Editor

Ilha Formosa

Under the synthetic pop,
there’s a drum like the slow pace
of an old tin fan turning round
and round in its socket, propelling
a cool metal breeze to wander

around and casually finger the back
of the neck— There is something balmy
and unsettled there, as if the island knows
more than sulfur and air and water shift
between earth and its beautiful blue fringe—

From aerial height, the eye wanders over
and almost misses this small cove
of verdant green rising up from the sea.
It is easy to get lost in the South Pacific,
to fall into the rhythm of the blood-beat
that echoes under the murmur of currents—

This is the island’s mesmer spell:
to look into the mirror of a mountain
and see your own face grown thick
in the moss, and the eyes pointing back at you:
wild, marbled, and reptilian—


Rita Banerjee

Rita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.