Sapling in the Woods (A Poem)

Credit: Painting by Ashis Manna

Beneath my feet are crunching leaves, martyrs to the world’s law, 

And above me the canopy, shaking leafy branches in a tribal dance,

Like a million green eyelashes in the sky’s eyes 

Nobody is listening. The gnarled limbs of the trees spread to claim the sky 

Gather the sun like gold, loot, I look up to them

Like greedy kings. Crouching in wonder at the feet of these tyrants,

listen carefully to the sound of leaves whispering in the breeze,

saying soft first words on earth. 

From the cold bed of the jungle floor

tiny shoots peek through their wooden chambers

with the sweetness of a child, peering from behind the curtains

shy, curious, drawn to the colourful show.  

Onwards they grow, leaving the warm clasp of home – daring 

to absorb the sun and its boundless kingdom. 

Never complaining, the small pads of their leaves 

unfurl like miniature flags

Never losing the hunger for light

Soaking the small stripes and flecks that filter into its open palms. 

The seed does not question the silent

Work of pushing feeble roots into the worn earth.

Is it celebration? 

Is it tragedy, the merciless struggle for survival? 

The questions of a human, once again trying to believe that

butterflies emerge from cocoons and

great trees from humble seeds

and once again remembering that
By Shreya Manna (c)