The Flower Shop

Day 2 of NaPoWriMo 2020

(Photo by Aashish Vaidya.  Image of Ranchod Rai Temple, taken few years ago on MG Road, while standing right in front of the flower shop, the subject of the poem)

The Flower Shop

The flower shop on the corner of MG road

and Sarneshwar Lane was located strategically –

equidistant from the two of the four gates of the old city:

Laheripura and Mandvi, both within less than a quarter kilometer.

 

Within a 5 minutes walk, were more than ten temples.

The devotees of which were the regulars of the flower shop,

owned and operated by the Ancient Man, a name coined by some

street urchin, which stuck, to the extent that

no one knew his real name anymore.

 

The Ancient Man, kept busy from dusk to dawn, wrapping the flowers,

the roses, the vincas, the jasmines, the marigolds,

and the plumerias, in fragments of

banana leaves and securing the packages

with thin white pieces of thread.

 

The Ancient Man, usually sported a short shirt length,

or a long, white tunic that hit below his knees.

The tunics were permanently stained with flower pollens or with

the deep yellow of the Kesudo flower – the Butea monosperma,

To the point that they really shouldn’t even be called white.

Similarly dyed were his loose white cotton-linen pants,

which should rightfully be called pajamas.

 

The Ancient Man, kept no books, but had encyclopedic knowledge

of the needs of his regulars: what type of flower packages they would want,

on regular days, on special personal occasions, and during festival days.

 

After working the flower shop from pre-dawn, the Ancient Man,

at dusk, close his shop for the day, right after grabbing the last

flower package, he’d had set aside from himself.

And then walk ten meters, south of his shop, across MG street,

To the Ranchod Rai temple, which is one of the many names

of Krishna, literally meaning “One who abandoned the battlefield.”

Krishna really did this when he decided to relocate

His grandfather’s capital from Mathura to Dwarka.

 

The Ancient Man, would join other devotees, in the evening prayers

Led by a skinny priest, dressed in saffron tunic and dhoti,

Sporting a black ponytail on an otherwise clean-shaven head.

 

The priest, will prepare the offering plate with camphor, flowers petals,

Vermillion past and grains of rice.  He will then proceed to light

the ghee soaked wicks placed on the brass Aarti.

 

After marking the forehead of the special devotee with vermillion paste

and grains of rice, and bestowing his blessings, the priest will hand over the Aarti.

Promptly, ringing the hand bell, and chanting slokas, he will commence

the evening prayer.  The blessed devotee will rhythmically, ritualistically move the Aarti

in loops.  While others, including the Ancient Man, will join the prayer chorus,

immediately increasing the decibel level of MG road, logjamed

with bumper to bumper traffic of exhaust spewing, constantly honking,

impossibly loud scooters, auto-rickshaws, cars, pedestrians, and stray animals.

 

Soon after the prayer is over, the Ancient Man will head home for the night.

Only to start his routine, all over again, pre-dawn,

while his customers all still soundly asleep dreaming dreams.

 

Notes:  Second day of NaPoWriMo 2020.  Got a late start, and barely pieced something together – almost in a stream of conscisouness type of writing today.  The prompt was: “…a leaf from Schuyler’s book, as it were, and asks you to write a poem about a specific place — a particular house or store or school or office. Try to incorporate concrete details, like street names, distances (“three and a half blocks from the post office”), the types of trees or flowers, the color of the shirts on the people you remember there. Little details like this can really help the reader imagine not only the place, but its mood – and can take your poem to weird and wild place.”

The Redwoods

Day 29 NaPoWriMo 2018

20140704-IMG_2919 LR

I keep my head in the clouds, Sylvia. I keep myself damp,
soaking in the moisture from the Pacific Ocean.
Why fear the ants and fire? I am resilient.

You do hear the Pacific Ocean in me,
Don’t you?
I am no void, I am life personified.

But, hate is on the rise.
Fake truths is what everyone is fixated on,
Lies make rounds like an eagle, hovering.

Day in and day out, I play sentry to the skies,
Let your wings grow, join me and feel
The calm, the silence.

Except when from below, the fossilized
Smoke rises and threatens my very existence
The rain instead of nurturing, pierces me.

Hundreds of years of sunrises and sunsets
Nurtured me as I become a sanctuary
The understory have tales to tell: the madrones, the fungi, the ferns.

I rise like a tower, forty stories above the ground
The fierce winds which were benign,
Now carries the seeds of my own mortality.

The fog, that served as my natural air conditioner
Now is devoid of moisture,
How would those berries grow and the bears be fed?

I shouldn’t care, why should I care?
Let it all self-destruct like you.
Give up this struggle – this desire to be loved.

But I have affinity to all those things that has a spark
A light that shines in me and I see in others
The same light that powers our sun and the stars.

Time flows, as it inevitably does,
I personify those that come and go,
Even it the scale is different for me and you.

If I am capable of longevity than my
Trunk and the top canopy will soak
In life from every leaf and every branch.

In the nectar of new dawn,
From the ashes the phoenix shall rise and will proclaim those virtues
That justify life, that justify life, that justify life.

Notes
Today’s prompt was:

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way.

I chose Sylvia Plath’s Poem Elm
I took the point of view of the Redwoods, to provide almost a counter-point, sort of an opposite poem to Plath.