Evening Poetry, November 5

Lockdown Garden

By Arvind Krishna Mehrotra 

1

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

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

2

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

3

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

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

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