‘Jamun Tree’ ~Chris Mooney Singh – Vol. I, Issue 4

Poet: CHRIS MOONEY SINGH

JAMUN TREE

You are not in the mood
to talk today, despite
your commanding height,
your thick tough trunk
good for railway sleepers,
your windbreak stance
at the side of the garden.

Is it the winter fog,
or those irate peacocks
screeching off after leaving
dog-like droppings
at your feet? It seems
you would prefer
we show decorum..

Grouch of an old maid
you have been living
with the family
far too long. So we tiptoe by,
as if past a room
smelling of underpants
and old brassieres
drying on a radiator.
What can we say about the old
we’re taught to respect?

Is it because this is
the cold dark time when
you feel fruitless before
your purple bullets,
like sour soap,
the size of olives
have yet to plump up
the thin ends of your twigs?

It’s said you helped
Lord Ram survive
14 years in the jungle,
that you’re the colour
of Lord Krishna’s skin;
and a cure for sour turns
of the liver and even
diabetes. Yes, you are the tree
of medicines, yet not lauded
like the pipal or banyan
those reigning patriarchs,
noted for sheltering philosophers.

No jamun, you are
a sorry old gripe in the midst
of winter, luring some upward
to shake free your raining fruits,
men willing to be boy-rustlers again,
to climb all over an old maid’s limbs.

Yes tongues will be stained
to complicent purple
and gums dyed in the colour of love.
You are not helpless,
branding your chosen
and can tell them off:

“Hey! don’t you forget
what I gave to you
from boyhood to manhood,
what I taught in the darkness
underneath the moon.
What I fed you on,
what I led you towards in knowledge
of the fruit of your loins.

Don’t play with me, boy,
I will expose those deeds
hidden in the secret garden
of the family hermitage.
Let’s not pretend
we are so innocent
and let’s also be frank.
I remind you again
through the purple stain of your theft.
Don’t forget who I am.”

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