The Tree by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

It did not weep
did not plead for mercy
nor complain.
It fell silently,
the tree. 

My hands,
yellow as its flesh
dripping white blood,
shuddering with
the deafening sound
of the chainsaw.
I'm the tree
and the one
who kills it. 

Its blood was white.
We took away its rouge
and the greenery of its leaves.

When a tree is decapitated
before the eyes of other trees
how do they feel?

When I asked this question to the trees,
in response, they stood silent
with their heads down. 

Have you ever seen
the execution of a tree?
It is said that the tree
weeps all night
before the day it dies.
It knows the meaning of
the red dot on its chest. 

They came, 
took down the tree, 
the sun moved to the west 
and everyone left. 
Only the earth remained
and me, motionless, 
where the tree stood once,
filled with joy and gratitude.

Before the adieu,
it left me its shade,
leaves and straws for 
the birds' nests
and the last seed, 
in the dried palms
of the earth's hands. 

In the seed
the mysteries of 
life and death.
The day they had come
to mark red on its forehead,
it knew they would be back 
soon, to behead it.

The day it's born brings joy.
When it grows — gives flowers, fruits, and shade.
And someday, its life. 
My desk is the bare chest of a fallen tree.
Laying my head on it, I can hear its heartbeats.
And leaning on the shoulders of 
every window and door of my home, 
I can listen to all the forests on earth
weeping together.

The grass wasn't here.
It was seeded.
Once a tree lived on this ground.
The grass is a green stole
on its tomb. 

Was it just a coincidence
that the tree died before my eyes? 
Or had it been waiting for me
as one awaits the loved ones
in final days? 
Before breathing its last,
it gave me an inheritance of an epic. 

***First published in World Literature Today

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is a Pushcart Prize nominated, Indian-American poet, writer, filmmaker, and author of four poetry collections. Her works have appeared in notable journals like “World Literature Today,” “Columbia Journal,” “California Quarterly,” “Indian Literature,” “Silk Routes Project” (IWP) at The University of Iowa, Stanford University’s “Life in Quarantine,” etc. Poems from her award-winning book “Bare Soul” and her poetry film “River of Songs” included in the “Nova Collection” and the “Polaris Collection” Lunar Codex time capsules are set to go on the moon with NASA’s missions” in 2022 and 2023. Her forthcoming poetry collection, “Trespassing My Ancestral Lands,” is in the making. Website: 

Also check out : Review of The Tree, a short film by Kalpna Singh Chitnis. A film by Silent River Films. by Candice Louisa Daquin

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