Poem

FIRE TREE

Tips of his mustache whip braided,
a turbaned invader four centuries ago
carried Persian saplings in a caravan
across the Himalayas to Kashmir.

“Our chinar will last a thousand years,”
my grandfather said as rustling boughs
reigned above the tin roof of the house
where I was born a Scorpio at midnight.

Every fall each leaf burst into a flower.
We gathered the remains of dyes
to create our rustic fuel for winter,
sprinkling water on burning leaves,

palms brushing light ashes together.
I packed fragile coal in a clay pot
matted in painted wicker, my kangri,
cloaking it between my knees

under a loose mantle, my pharun.
The ashes warmed my bag of bones.
I flew to the future of other worlds,
returning years later to see my father,

sun-withered, sipping his morning tea
alone beside an amputated trunk.
Last night I dreamt I went to Kashmir again.
I was being rowed in an embroidered shikara

to the Garden of Rajas who had vanished,
and the garden was a sea of hell; the tin roof
collapsed, our fire tree submerged, and
barrenness had become a thousand things.

by Rafiq Kathwari, Winner of the 2013 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award

Like what you're reading? Don't keep it to yourself!
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Reddit
Reddit
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email