Compensating Joy - Poem by Ananta Madhavan
Dawn had touched the sky.
The undulating hill-crest was translucent in the mist.
Soon the sun will suffuse the scene
And etch the outlines and the colours all too starkly.
How still they are, the fronds atop the coconut trees.
The long leaves, burnished by sunlight,
Are dark green swords from shadowed sheaths;
Bunched coconuts, ready to be flung down
By monkeys or hired climbers.
A slow breeze stirs and fans the hot air.
The day is ready for news, disasters, shame and pathos.
Will sprinkling raindrops alleviate or temper
The onslaught of the sun?
I trudge on, every step a grudge: a long dry season.
But behold that club of trees. They beggar admiration,
Each with a crest of yellow blooms: ‘tabebuia' from South America.
This day may be our last chance to marvel at their splendour.
Fallen petals are the pomp below the trees,
Whose bare branches sieve the sky
In flourishes of a convoluted script I cannot read.
Nature's language leaves me hardly literate,
But I stride on with admiring wonder.
I will not omit to remark the pattern of leaves,
The geometry of calligraphic branches
Reaching higher for the sun.
This day may be the season's last chance
To marvel at the splendour of those yellow blooms,
Their sheer abundance, a super-plus to mock us, perhaps;
For the ground around the boles below
Is carpeted with fallen petals
And the stark branches tell me
Of shapes that beggar admiration.
Two small herons fly northward,
to find water to drink and splash in.
Our park is daily homage to life's variety, to fellow-creatures, plants,
Toddlers, dotards, courting couples questing for privacy within the public gaze,
Vendors, cheats and louts, fortune-tellers,
Gender-neutral prowlers looking for the lovelorn.
We half know that lady from the house across the street,
Clad smartly in a printed sari, matching blouse and sports shoes.
We hail each other as she overtakes us, plodders,
She has no time for chit-chat, but today
We share our wonder at those trees in flowered abundance,
Going, going, almost gone, but
They leave shrivelled petals and faded leaves,
An earnest of their hope to thrill us again
At their renewal next summer.
- - - - - (2012, Mysore, India)
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