In Kudankalum under the banyan tree: Aswath Vriksha

A poem for the women of Kudankalum village

“I am Banyan, tree among trees” – Bhagavad Gita

Eyes of the world
briefly flutter
on this village
a patch of baked mud
around a solitary Banyan tree
this earth has bloomed in swaying blossoms
hundreds of women
saris wrapped around their heads their bodies
fragile shields against sun’s heat
woven in every conceivable tint and hue
of nature’s generous world
they sit and plan determined
to save their seeds
cloistered in wombs wrapped in silk and cotton
no protection from radiation.

they may not know how to write
or to read any human constructed language
but they understand messages from their bodies
like divine Ashwath Vriksha
they carry seeds of eternal life
unto countless generations
hidden in frail shell of their flesh
they can read messages of the atom from
Hiroshima to Fukushima
they prepare to starve to save the future
to save seeds of life from mutation
to protect their eggs that carry promise
of life for every succeeding generation
they sit and fast in sun’s golden heat
try to imagine the white heat of explosions
power of atoms divided
dust of deadly fallout.

their message is simple
no nuclear plants
go to the sea for power
reach to the sky for power
let us live, fish, garden in our earthly paradise
leave the future to bloom in vivid colours
let our granddaughters
their granddaughters
dance a tapestry of swaying flowers
with sacred banyan
Ashwath Vriksha
for life eternal.

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Theresa Wolfwood

Theresa Wolfwood is a writer and activist in Victoria, BC, Canada. Her poetry collection: Love and Resistance was published by Smallberry Press, UK. She serves as the director of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation (BBCF), Canada.

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