All, Or Nothing At All
by Bibhu Padhi (May 2014)
I keep looking at the neem tree
in front of this rented house.
How proud it appears
this harsh summer evening!
Phosphorescent, its leaves
thin, glowing, almost translucent
against the street’s sodium light.
And then, just a little farther away
there is another figure--
its dry branches speechless, still,
fighting against nothing, proving
nothing, but only perhaps
a small friendship with me
and all those whom I love
and therefore call mine.
As I begin to feel where
inside me, I feel its
bare pain, it implores me
not to watch it straight,
but only sideways, from an angle
that hurts nothing, pities
no one, hates nothing--
not even another’s pride.
It only waits for another
shake of greens, and asks me
in a voice that silence alone
can give, to lean on it whenever
I’ve even a minute’s time,
as if the very touch of this
middle-age skin were sufficient
for its further life--
when no one is around,
except the night, its dark,
confidential, womb-like privacy.
To dream of nothing except
that invisible seed
which so carefully encloses
its heartwood life, as it
longs for another time,
a quickening of new leaves,
and of course, encloses too
daydreaming, pain-tired me.
Bibhu Padhi's eighth book of poems, Magic Ritual, was published earlier this year. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, the most recent being THE HARPERCOLLINS BOOK OF ENGLISH POETRY (2012). He lives in Bhubaneswar, India.
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