40th Annual Parkmont Poetry Festival: Saturday, April 30, 2022.

2021 Winner

Orange Memory

I was three years old in this photograph

My mother stood behind me

Pressing my left shoulder with her thumb.

The air was thick with saffron light

And the smell of the coconut oil

She used in her hair.


Our feet scrub the burnt-red bristles

Of the tufted rug clinging to our shadows.

My right hand lays – flat, palm-down,

Brushing the tulsi-stained wood table

That stands at half my height.

My left grasps a stuffed puppy;

Its draping ears graze my leg.


My dress is bruised-green

Barely scraping my knees

Its texture so similar to

The carpet compressed below us.

My curls – long-gone ringlets – are damp;

They stick, cold and dark

To my mother’s white-ruffled shirt.


Together we stand,

Crushed in time,

A memory of figures trapped

In coconut oil and saffron.

Mallika Mukherjee

Mallika Mukherjee

National Cathedral School

Grade: 8