Treasure Island

Raj Arumugam

The plants and trees

These plants and trees I know;
these creatures I love


Outside the insect screen of the laced
there stands the green billow of leaves
peppered with crimson of flowers.
Anytime you wash your hands at the sink
and if you happen to lift your head a little
there at the junction of Holland and Cove streets
stands the comforting rich flame of the forest.

Now it is April
and its flowers are gone;
and huge dry pods hang
like black tongues of witches;
but still, to add some cheer,
its rich green
swells like the cheeks of an impish child
blowing at heaven


Each shut in and enclosed within,
we walked in the heat
that clawed at our arms
and nibbled at our faces like hungry rats.
At the pavement at the junction
where Holland Street disputes with Sherwood
there stood this serene and accomplished tree
and we halted below it
as if an order had been issued,
each remarking spontaneously on the
comforts of Sherwood's flame of the forest


A tangle of sunflowers shouts at us
as we walk down the street;
unobserved these many days
not remarked on these many weeks,
it has grown angry and full
and swells and pouts like Van Gogh in a rage


The overgrown overfriendly bottlebrush tree
unabashedly and tirelessly pummels the mesh screen
at the kitchen window
Hello! Hello!
he seems to say,
brushing, pounding at the screen with his gentle fists.

Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!
I'm used to this brush fellow
for he used to surprise me
at the oddest corners in my previous place.
A guide book I carried to trace his ancestry with
The bottlebrush is a native of Australia.
Here I am now and it's good to have known
a native even before I arrived.

Oh, I've had more than a brush with this fellow.

(from The Migrant - notes of a newcomer (February 1997- July 1998))

Submitted: Thursday, November 06, 2008
Edited: Tuesday, December 30, 2008

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