In March when the laburnum, in full bloom
Leans forward, bent with its linear sunlight-yellow blossoms
Almost weary with the weight of spring
My heart lifts.

And it’s here
That featival of mine with the fragrance of crushed cardamom,
Mingled with the scent of cheap insence sticks
That weve adorned pictures of Gods garlanded with real jasmine flowers.


I know in my mother’s home
And in my sisters’ too
The lamps gleam like polished gold
And the table is laden with
wannabe field-bounty
There will be rice mixed with coins
(We’ve counted the coins, we’ll put it back too)
And oh, as soon as it’s ready
There’ll be unni appams, paysaams
Sometimes one, often two.

In my home though, pre vishu day
There is a child who awakens
Dreamy, smiling. Eager.
She summon slivers of hope (there will be kaineetam)
Of breathless promises
Of lazy holiday lunches (banana leaf, steaming rice, runny with clarified butter and iridescent daal)
Of dreams that are ambitious (of the endless things to do with five rupees).
And then she waits.


I approach the tree on Turner Road
Its boughs are low
Yet not low enough
Lend me your flowers,
I tell the Kanipoo tree.
Bend lower. Try. I have memories!
My mother, making payasaam
My father doling out kaineetam after we’ve seen our reflection,
first thing on Vishu dawn.

Bend lower, O Kani tree
And don’t just see
The child still looking back wistfully.
For if you stop being so lofty
You will see the embryo of an adult.
Who needs those flowers just as much.
The flowers that are achingly close
(And not close enough)
You ought to know
Is a formal ritual of letting go.