A Burning Tree
i.m. Gaura Devi (1925-1991)
I can hear you near the hooks behind the door,
Trying to take your belt off the third one from the right.
The prong of your belt is caught between the hook
And the frame of its buckle. A shrill song of steel
Scraping steel persists for about a minute,
Before it stops. From the bed, all I see is the forest,
And in the middle of the forest, a large barren circle.
Until a week ago, there stood a solitary lamp post:
A White body with a head pointed to the ground.
When the trees swayed in the wind, their maternal
Branches embraced the post and their leaves stroked
Its face. In the heat of a morning, a tree caught fire
And everything burned; a brilliant red. The post,
Erected to guide the cutters, disappeared. I am planting
A Gulmohar in the sitting room. When I am not writing,
I will stand in her foliage. At dawn, when the sun rises,
Everything will be red. This house will burn into the dark
Earth, the ghosts of the trees I let you cut will slowly
Retreat into the forest. All that was taken will be returned.
If we are truly fortunate, we will be forgotten.