By: Priya Anand
My Rambunctious Garden
My rambunctious garden, a name I unabashedly borrow
from a book in my daughter’s burgeoning library
Is filled with a melange of plants thrown together in a frenzy
Spindly curry leaf rubs shoulders
with an elegant Parijat who sheds her flowers before dawn
She dare not look at the Sun lest she falls in love with him again
The Plumeria shorn of its green plumage looks like a slender anorexic model on impossibly high heels
The Petra Volubilis climbs swiftly like a rat snake up a tree.
its purple showers surrounded by colourful bougainvillea that
clambers and peeps over my fence at the bitter neem that stares back with disdain
A guava still in its infancy is eager to come of age, tall and gangly with a tendency to slouch
The Shankapushpi spreads over the tiled sunshade, its flowers out of reach
How am I to make my bright blue tea after my afternoon siesta?
A succulent and versatile aloe vera waves it’s fat green arms in the air,
its oozy flesh bulge like the flabby arms of a middle aged woman
A green chilly plant that is reluctant to fruit
Perhaps it does not want its young tender fruits to be plucked, utilised in curries and then discarded when its flavours are all used up
Karpuravalli, whose leaves can be made into a mean chutney as
an accompaniment for dosa, waves madly like a friend I haven’t met in years
Can it address the prickles I feel In my throat and the fear that swells in my chest?
A shy cactus peaks out, an impulse buy in my part
Its spiny green surface, a suit of armour
An outsider that doesn’t quite fit in
like me in a tightly knit Whatsapp group of friends
A papyrus plant towers above the others
Its stems, giant sentinels dancing in the wind,
A Sunbird visits, his bright wings tipped in gold
He sits on its slender stems as they bend and bow
like a trapeze artist on a tight rope till
he launches themselves into the air as our cat leaps from below
His true nature as a hunter emerges for a brief instant and then he goes back to his slumber
He twitches in his sleep dreaming perhaps of a prize catch from days past
If you look closely, a whole universe of insects and worms have made my garden their home.
An active colony of black ants scurry around collecting food,
some of the more adventurous ones venture up the papyrus plants.
Down below their more vicious cousins,
the marauding red army marches across my buffalo grass attacking a luscious ankle or a bare toe and sends the unsuspecting victim scurrying for cover.
Late in the evening as the light fades and shadow pools gather in the dark recesses of the garden,
My rambunctious garden, now restrained
fills the night
Late at night
Late at night ideas foment
bubble and bleed through in under formed phrases
but written in delible link
they fade when exposed to sunlight
Late at night a line emerges
could it become a poem I think
but it soon slips deep into the recesses of my mind
and will not emerge
digging in defiantly like the sturdy root of a now dead plant
Late at night will forgotten words be reborn
to provide a reprieve and belief
that a failure is not a death knell
but a temporary postponement of thought
Abstract or definitive?