Ode to plants – poem by Anjali Bhavan
Here’s an ode to the mallippu, to blade-like
whips of white, inviting snakes to dream
beneath their bowers. Here’s another song
to the slender bones of arugampul, beloved
to the elephant-lord and the digestive system.
A cheer for feisty old kanakambharam, the
one which bursts when it swallows its share
of grief; it refuses to linger unlike our wispy
tendrils of pain, our depressive creepers stuck
to deadlines. Thamarai, floating around in a
bad economy, impish womanhood throwing
itself forth amidst a puddle of algae. A shout
-out to Thulasi, the favorite condiment in my
mother’s chai and the scent of orthodox piety.
Here’s to my mother, ambling along like a
slow harvest, teeth set, hands sweating. Here
is a poem to her microcosmic embrace, her
earthy voice, her walk her laughter her tears.
To my grandmother; round and tart like a
betel leaf, falling softly on our tongues like
a benediction. To my neighbourhood aunt,
rearing and raking an entire universe in a
to the one who hides tears in her belly and
growls ferociously at the onslaught of snags
her tiny life throws at her. Here is an ode to
the numerous flowers, bumbling stalks and
whispering leaves I run into; on every street,
in every other newspaper article, inside every
box of spices.
To you and to you, I light a lamp and pray.
- Mallippu: Jasmine flowers
- Aragampul: Bermuda grass
- Kanakambharam: Fire-cracker flowers
- Thamarai: Lotus
- Thulasi: Basil
- Chai (Hindi): Tea
It is a common belief that the scent of jasmine flowers attracts snakes, hence the first line of the poem.