Evening Poetry, November 5

Lockdown Garden

By Arvind Krishna Mehrotra 


Close to each other,
socially undistanced,
the mulberry leaves,

uniformly green,
shall turn brown together.
It’s like a herd dying.


Firm to begin with,
the mud clod
could’ve injured you.
It crumbles in your hand.


In the heap of  dead
leaves crinkly as
brown skins, those
breathing things
foraging around
the bamboo stand
are  jungle babblers.


It was planted
all wrong, too
close to a wall,
under the mango
trees. There was
nowhere for it
to go except up
like a mast and
that’s where
it went, taking
its leaves with it—
long, tapering.
I never saw them
fall. It never
flowered, which
would’ve helped
me look it up in a
book of  flowering
Indian trees. Now
I’ll never know
its name nor of
the bird singing
at evening
in the shrubbery.


She stood outside
the gate, a woman
my age, head covered
with flowery print,
a sickle in her hand.

Could she come
inside and cut
grass for her goats?
It was ankle high.
Her face was inches

from mine and I felt
her breath on my skin.
It’s after I’d turned
the corner that I heard
what she’d said.


The shingles unwalked on,
the doors bolted,
the squirrels back in their nests.

Under the moon a bird floats
and settles on a branch.
The sky is pale.

The leaves of the ironwood
when new every spring
are a deep pink.

The evening  goes out like a flame.
We’ve seen different things.
It’s always been so.

Tell me, love, what you saw today.

You can find this in the October edition of Poetry.

Leave a Reply