மடல் பெரிது தாழை
She was peripatetic
slung a bag across the shoulder
A pouch of puffed rice salted tempered with pepper
moistened the old saree
frayed at the shoulder with sweat
She walked until she couldn’t
identify a single species of tree
to learn anew
which one yielded edible berries
if Pandanus bore flowers
in the rosette of spiked leaves
வாங்கக் குடம் நிறைக்கும் வள்ளல் பெரும் பசுக்கள்
நீங்காத செல்வம் நிறைந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்.
The hill fashions clouds
the illupai breathes deep to enable this.
Shrouded in a fog the pimpled bark of wild lime
loops liana climbers under hoary limbs.
The red earth swirls in a dust storm
precipitation veins the hill.
The mercurial rupture on the boulders, the burst
of life tosses the crown of kadamba.
The heartwood browned with age holds
the secret of her progeny. Stewing the sap
into the folds of the skin, she births a calf
who sleeps in the ooze of milk.
A butterfly dusted in sunset orange dips into a flower
like a diver who tears into the silky fabric of the sea.
The honeyed bees are encrusted and scaled with pollen
as the laced wings whir, toss the flowers.
I feel most elated on a day when sun licks the earth in thirst
the notes tumble from the dried twig, set fire a song.
I think the poem hid in a flower, in the wings of a butterfly
in the pollen on a drunken bee, in the song of a thirsty earth.
I raked the ground, sifted through the crumble of browned leaves
watched the earth yield a plant and offer a flower to find this.
I will blame the blueness in the sky
the berries fallen and crushed under feet, seeds carried away by wind
the plain breasted bird on a dying tree.
Sun soaks through everything, stitches specialness into the ordinary
It was luck
that took me to the first line
that creased the face
when worry constricted
the bones at the chest
The threadbare day
spun yarns from empty tales
when I could not choose
between the sea and the mountain
Both were a gateway to another life
Most times space turned inward
to the remembrance of light on the skin
stretched to the radius
where the sun distilled colors
on the flowers
as the leaves
held the conversation with the tree.
All lives are connected
trees and plants are one organism
that nurture each other
the weak soldiered by the strong.
There is a warrior in my garden
the Plumeria tree that grows in a large tub
she has not a single leaf and will never
waste energy on producing one all summer.
She breathes deep and holds life
for pink protuberances to burst into blossoms.
In the tub there is a hum of roots, a stray
tomato seed waves pale and spindly shoot
a robust butterfly pea creeper threads
a nosy tendril into the air for support from
the naked branches. Blanched
leaves of honeysuckle vine trail
over the tree as they gulp mouthfuls
of sunlight for chlorophyll.
All that he owned was a tamarind tree
even the land where the house stood was not his.
So, what is yours, the young wife asked coiling her finger
into his matted hair. His drunken eyes looked from her
to the pods on the tree, her skin the texture of seeds.
Eyes swimming like leaves in the breeze he recounted:
my mother made me a mirror of earth and river.
She laughed, but there is no river for miles around.
Here it is, he held her wrist. The nerve twisted in
sediments of the memory of her people. The river ran
below the skin of cantaloupe, in the musculature of soil
where the roots of the tamarind spread. She saw them
in the spine of her man and the fine branching of blue veins
in the neck as he arched towards her.
The moringa tree wants me to snip its head every time
I run my hand over the shoots.
It rather stays my height so the leaves, flowers and pods
remain within grasp.
I bring every part of the tree to my meal, mulch the soil
with its own waste.
Can I do all these to my memories – nick them so to
garner the light of the sun?
It is easy to catch the smell of despair in the scaled trunk
crumbly like algae in a temple pond.
In secrecy I wrote your name on the bark, watched it grow
into rings of stories.
Each letter faded out, absorbed into the core of the tree
that is ungraspable.
I do not need the aswatha tree to teach me lessons of life.
The moringa does better
by paring me down, shredding clamoring limbs. I shed leaves
to reach for my small voice.