Have you seen that gnarled tree
Standing in the corner of our street,
Her branches anchor children,
Loitering on streets.
Her shadowy foliage,
A shrine for veneration: A haven
Where the early seeker meditates,
Offering a prayer with coconuts, bananas
And incense sticks to Gods;
Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma
Have always rested there.
She is home for the homeless,
Her soul river- like,
Bears the vicissitudes of fate
Bows down to tempests,
Soars with the wind,
Plummets with the disappearing sparrow
And hides in the seven-coloured chameleon.
She lulls the weary soul to sleep.
She harbours nesting fledglings
From prying eyes and sharp talons.
Warbling birds shelter in her crevices,
Scattering seeds soon to sprout.
A canopy, she’s hosted
The theatrical puppeteers
Whose roaring voice commands;
And on whose dancing strings poise
Wide-eyed magical legends.
Lo! How mysteriously appear Lord Ram,
Wailing the loss of Sita;
And a lusty Ravana hovering,
Swooping at his prized possession:
At her frailty, chortling
Jeering and roaring, villainously;
And Hanuman at Sita’s rescue.
Oh bent tree, you archive mellifluous yarns,
Beat to the tales of raconteurs
And wizened storytellers of yore,
Who opened up treasures unbelievable
To the credulous open-mouthed populace
By strumming stories in Baul songs.
Pause, Tarry, O passer-by, witness
Your soul’s beatitude,
Align with this bent tree in rapturous ecstasy…
Perhaps ’tis your soul’s music,
Guiding you to your roots,
The universe, our fractal history!
© Mumtaz N Khorakiwala
This poem was chosen for a Spotlight Award in the month of March 2021, on Poets Inc. It was , I quote Kimberly, “ …chosen for its apt choice of wording and culturally enriching references, the poetic phrasing, the use of personification evoking emotive response from the readers, sensory/ emotive devices that enable the reader to feel what is being conveyed via a central character,” the personified tree aligns with a myriad human qualities and also brings out their cultural importance in bygone India.