Trees don’t become birds

Trees don’t become birds long poem

An Ode to Madurai

People ask me, why do my teardrops

fall so heavily on the sand?

Why does my laughter not roll

as the laughter of children, not roll

as the pebbles down the river bed?

Tell them. Tell them I wasn’t like this.

Tell them I once ate more mangoes than books.

With stolen coins jingling in my pocket,

with a friend in my hand, tell them

how I roamed your streets, thinking

I owned the world.

Tell them. Tell them about our secrets.

About the giant women in pornographic films,

About this very hand that once stole breasts.

Tell them. Tell them everything.

Tell them about the sweet pain

of thorns buried in the feet.

Tell them about the games

that swung between life and death.

Tell them how I ran and ran

till I fell and fell.

It is true.

I wished to leave your land.

I wished to find the world

and somehow find myself.

I was a tree that wanted to be a bird.

But, trees don’t become birds.

They merely go looking for roots

from land to land.

In strange cities, far, far away,

in cave like places,

as the first swig of beer slid down my throat,

in brief moments, that lasted a second

and a hundred years,

as I rested my head upon the breasts of my beloved,

as I closed my eyes to receive the raindrops,

I found you, only to lose you,

only to lose you.

From day to day, I went,

with wonder, with wonder, is it you?

Is it you I see

when I look into the distance?

Is it you I hear

when I close my eyes?

Is it you? Is it you who calls and calls me

from the sky, every night?

Trees don’t become birds.

Trees don’t become birds.

And not everything one lets go

comes back knocking.

And life is not a wave

that just rises and rises.

But, these are things one learns

by burning oneself.

The truth of it all, the truth of it all,

what wouldn’t i give to have you back?

To feel your dust in my nose?

To look at you in the eye once again

and tell that we are but one?

Let me, let me just keep you in my purse

as a photograph, so that I can look at you

now and then, so that I remind myself

day and night, what I lost

to gain what I do not want.

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Balaji Gopalan

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I owe all of my poetry to the influence of Pablo Neruda. Reading him 10 years ago on the beaches of Goa, gave me the permission to be who I am and write what I feel. My poetry has never been the same after that. All that I write is an offering to Neruda.
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4 Comments on "Trees don’t become birds"

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Lolo Pookie
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This is beautiful.

david atkinson
Member

great. love the line “trees don’t become birds”

Sreelatha Chakravarty
Member

Lovely! Pathos for the land, his beloved.

ZUZANNA MUSIAL
Member

Hi there, your poem speaks to my heart, lovely written..There are thoughts and feelings involved…Excellent read…ZuZanna

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