The Tree of Sorrow by Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind

I want to take you there, to this house, quiet like the woes
of the strong, thirteen trees my grandfather planted,
three rose shrubs, gul mohrs that lined the compound wall,
curry leaves for grandmother’s kitchen,
a henna plant, for her hair

It was the parijat that brought grief there
the tree of sorrow, its botanist’s name.
orange-red centre, five lobed corolla
this flower, a child of the night.

My mother speaks of difficulties
in domesticating the things that want you dead
they pale away – can you believe? –
off all things, in sunshine,
grieving in flourish, like a man who laments his
surplus money.

The house is still there, untouched, unwell, unhurried.
come with me to see old barks and thorns, unmoving things;
maybe you’ll then understand
why I am afraid of light.