Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The eucalyptus cull

Away morning, rented villa scented
with a lazydaisy sunlight
with past living beaten pleated into the dented
floor, the weight of unknown orchid-white
blossoms slow-brushed outside
you prepare breakfast, nothing fancy
nothing elaborate that the family love
heavy duty, painstaking butter-yellow-clarity
no, just a pouring from boxes into cups
a filling up and robotic portioning of unmindful, just enough.
There’s a staunch straight eucalyptus
in the courtyard back home, and today it must go
the municipality man has given final notice
and felling grown trees is unexpected sorrow
a life lost from life without the show
of mourning or closure. Not that it served a purpose
no low branches to climb, no swings
for young children, and eucalyptus
supposedly sucks out life from other growing things
even the grass a sporadic underling
but it’s stood there, for as long as your children can recall
silver spine upright, two tone leaves’ underside
strangely pale, drizzling sunlight in small,
finicky quanta; and generous strips of bark; can’t be right
that it’s going to suddenly topple the wall.
You dimly remember the planting, many years ago
on an unremarkable spring day after newly
moving in, bare new earth, many things still raw
without the patina of age, unruly
and reckless, the sheen that came too slowly
and so it has come finally to this
a quick getaway villa with an unmindful breakfast
in its belly. Will the tree fall quite soundless
when the saw goes through at last
as you the planter can’t bear to bear witness?
Something sits terribly hushed about
the house as you drive back in
that grim gap, that raging mud-mouth
where once the slim trunk had been
commonplace suddenly turned obscene
the glass-faced windows blare
out their contents without the filigreed
darkness of leaves, the fluid flare
of shimmying limbs, shoots and roots and seed
strewn over the yard here and there.
You don’t sow and reap, no special
connection between growth and death
was in your mind. You planted a perennial
one spring, unthinking, on the blind faith
that trees are closer to the limits of eternal.
The man comes in with blunt
words, the talk is about so many clear feet
between the tree and the front
wall, the hazard to the public street
and he can’t do a thing, he really can’t.
Signals with an offhand cruelty
of vaguely overstepping allotted limits
the yard’s too small for even a stunted tree
forever forget trying to fit
hungry-rooted tall drizzly ones in it.
And so you start organising the cull
feeling just a little hard done by
who knew? that even a perennial
will stop being so once manmade rules apply
not even trees! nothing’s invincible.
The job’s done, and a quick trip out of town
to avoid the first cut of the ordeal
to grow something, and then to strike it down!
Abraham’s sacrifice made hauntingly real
and the blood still there gaping on the ground.

Linked to OpenLinkNight@dVerse


  1. ugh on the clear cutting of trees...esp to build homes while others sit empty....we have little respect for nature...the second, having to cull it yourself because of the rules, even worse....abrahams sacrifice is a nice and fitting touch...

    1. agree abt lack of respect for nature....the Islamic "feast of the sacrifice" is later on this month...thanks for being here..

  2. This is a terrific poem - from the mindless breakfast full to the loss of a possibly not great tree - but tree- your description of the yard/windows without the tree very powerful. k.

  3. Great ending to a wonderful write !

  4. This really spoke to me, as a gardener, and to my imagination, as a poem. You bring not just the tree but the people it touches vividly to life.

    1. This poem comes from imagination mostly, not my direct experience, so good to know it's convincing. Many thanks for the feedback

  5. love the nod to abraham...and cutting trees is so hard..i know how much kids miss a tree they grew up with...we all do...

    1. Trees do make up a huge chunk of our childhood memories..Thank you for reading

  6. So hauntingly sad... Eucalyptus is such a beautiful tree. I adore the smell. I have an enormous arrangement in my living room featuring it.

    Beautifully written, Nilanjana.

    1. I love the smell too! Thank you for the feedback, Michael. Much appreciated.

  7. Very beautiful and sorely touching poem...I can so easily resonate and connect to it! Nilanjana, plz do read:
    whenever you have time and see similar emotions.

  8. Thank you...for the feedback and the link. Much valued.