Daniel Trevelyn Joseph
Trees And Birds - Poem by Daniel Trevelyn Joseph
Summer brings forth the yellow carpet
Woven in different patterns on pavements,
Made up yellow flowers from cassia trees,
Side by side with white dried-up bird-shit,
Under foliage, along with here and there
The red pattern of betel and areca juice
Spit out by my paan-chewing countrymen.
The trees shedding yellow flowers are huge,
Forty to eighty feet high, with thick green foliage,
Comprising of feathery mimosa-like leaves,
Arranged in pairs of pinnae,6 to 20, and
Spreading half across the carriageway,
Sometimes forming a complete arch
On wide, wide roads.
They push forth flowers in bunches,
Summer gifts interspersed with copper pods
The shield-bearing trees – Peltophorum Roxburghii
Or some such jawbreaker of a botanical name!
The Scottish doctor William Roxburgh (1751 – 1815)
Was superintendent of Calcutta Botanic Garden.
The flowering season starting in March
These yellow flowers cupped in coppery
Red downy calyx, with petals inversely oval
In shape, hairy at the base, and much crinkled
At the margins, fall regularly down
And make carpets of bright yellow
Till they wither, or are swept away
By the municipal sweepers with masks.
On these trees once I have seen
Large number of small birds
Each with different plumage and twittering,
Alas, no longer. What I now see are
Crows, crows, crows,
And some pink-legged blue rock pigeons,
And an occasional mynah or parakeet,
Not to forget a pariah kite
Though bird of prey, reminding me of a baby.
These peltophorum trees are a-plenty in Mumbai,
But not as noticed as Gul-mohur (Delonix regia) ,
Which also blossom in summer in the City.
In the past I have seen them covering one third
Of the Malabar Hill range seen in the Northern horizon,
As one started the car on Marine Drive
From Air India building on Nariman Point.
But, of course, now reduced by buildings
In place of trees.
Let us be kind to shade-giving trees
Reduced by construction activity,
And small birds, getting destroyed
By the crows eating their eggs and young ones.
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