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What Winter did to Autumn’s Gamboge


Pray where did Autumn’s gamboge go?

A lone bird chirped, singing through winter’s quiet,

No tweet nor trill it heard, except, a deadly whoosh.

Its little body, though, it wrapped in downy plume,

Shuddered in the gusts of Northern winds.

Alas, it thought, its song was lost like Autumn’s gamboge.


And then queenly Winter smiled as she peered

Hers fingers busy with delightful needlework

Her hands plucked each fallen leaf with care

To work filigree on the pile of gamboge,

Each vein she picked with care

And soldered with her Winter sheen .


The gamboge leaves, she’d then sew into a cape or snuggly quilt,

To envelope little creatures from frost and sharp-edged icicles,

That’d graze and tear their limbs and wings,

When they moved past the bare trees’ limbs.

Thus she conspired with the shaven heads, and

brutally severed umber limbs,

Raised in a stance of somnolent veneration.


A blanket of filigreed gamboge with silver sheen

Would cheer their hearts, when they yearned for Spring ‘s green.

She thought,” A blanket’s a small Christmas gift

That’ll bring them cheer, and perhaps

I can ask the elk, moose, and mistletoe to steal a sip, and some crumbs

Of the delicious cake from festive tables, and gift these with Autumn’s gamboge quilt!”


©Mumtaz Khorakiwala

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