Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Kapok tree

The blessed Kapok tree, standing tall though a long slumber
Displaying its wares to the clouds, buying raindrops
That feed its flock of green, for there is no respite
From the need for air, in this comfortable incubator few wish to leave

These cathedrals of the Amazon, living proof
Of the power of silent workers, witnessing the rise of rivulets of sap
To greet a deluge from the skies, a daily gift
In that humid world, water is everywhere

Prerequisite for a testing ground for the fittest
Athletes of nature, each competing for a shot at glory
A crowning achievement not recognized
Till the earth has seen a few more moods of the sun

Hidden in the thicket, is a sure means of escape
A lost tribe may not know any better
In that isolated world, conflicts easily arise
The mind struggles to evolve, unwilling to wait

For time is a cure, but is marked by a different watch
Whose hands struggle to move
In the eyes of the impatient
If all desires are instantly gratified, what’s left to enjoy?

Rough bark hides delicate threads, connecting
Roots to the leaves, as does our skin
Hiding the microscopic spectacle within
Reveling in its own perfection, it does not crave attention

Readymade rewards are sought, even before those thoughts arrive
Like fruits that are plucked faster than the tree can materialize
Leading to wrong condemnation, of a barren state
Baking in the heat of the desert, neither tree nor man may easily survive

The sun bears no fault, if circumstances don’t weather change
The shade of the Kapok tree is nature’s gift to us
Rising tall, speaking to the sun on our behalf
Negotiating a truce, allowing the jungle to flourish

It’s exposed trunk, may offer a means of escape
Watching its dismembered branches
The tree barely moves, without a wince
Braving the sharp end of an axe

There’s never famine when a river flows
It’s meandering course, few care to know
A stone age revelation brought the world together, with a dugout canoe
Warring tribes could see they were no different from one another

Floating coffins, made from the trunk of the Kapok tree
Ply harmlessly to the sea, answering prayers for an escape
Where the deadly piranhas are out of water
Nourishing venom keeping nature’s balance

Resting on brightly colored speckles warning of imminent danger
Premonitory signs cutting across all tongues
Straight to instinct’s heart, lorded over by fear
A flame that burns on ten candlesticks

It may melt gold but not the sun
A dormant fire for those still in the dark
Our activities mimic its rise and fall
The Kapok tree braves the night and day on an even keel

A beacon of hope till the trunk is hollowed out
Its place in the forest forever lost
A treasure chest full of its seeds no match for the overgrowth
Until the next age, when the ploughing starts anew

Why wait till that harvest time?
The farmer could change his mind anytime
A complex order has been set
Checks and balances are in one’s right and left hands

Only coming together in a clasp
When danger lurks on exposed ground
The shy creatures of the Amazon never waste their poison in vain
With our kind, life’s wasted in rancor and greed

The stone age may have never left, just ask those who fight
Tools of the trade have changed, not the owner in the mind
Who would waste a tree just to rest their backs?
Life could be evergreen in a place without seasons

Would a Kapok tree survive there? Nobody knows
A replica transplanted here for our pleasure does indeed grow
The wise climb it, some turn it into canoes
To navigate treacherous rivers of desire

Forgetting all the while, tea brewed from its leaves, gives life to our blood
Sturdy are its branches, supporting the pillar of life
On which hangs the hat with five feathers
Molted from wings still enjoying the freedom of flight

  • N. Seshadri