Poetry / August 2009 (Issue 8)

Two Orchard Poems

by David C.E. Tneh

Orchard Memories
(For grandfather)

you walked with a watering hose
to shower the lime trees of your
precious toil. Trudging the cut slopes,
you drag the hose up the earth,
tugging the rubber and its
leaky joints that slowly uncoil
as you pull it up-hill.
The leaky tap under the zinc shed
strains to provide the pressure and
precious water drips from it,
forming a small puddle below the pipe.
Occasionally a spray of water
would shower the air.
A cold white mist would linger,
spectre-like, a multicolour streak.
Then, a phosphorescent of hues
would coat the sun's rays and
a bizarre gliding spectrum
would coat my eyes,
like a drop of colour in clear water.
A tincture of memories
made of water, light, and
the evening sun.

Orchard Dreams
(For grandmother)

My mothers' mother
always dresses in a floral sarong.
She tends to her ducks and lime trees
and feeds the loud birds with squashed snails
thrown over the makeshift shack with wire fencing.

I would pace quietly behind,
dragging the long brown hose, watching her
showering her cherished lime trees while the sound
of howling of dogs and jungle fowl fill the jungle landscape.
On quiet evenings after the afternoon rains, she would
stroll around her garden with a straw hat and clippers.
Moving slowly among the various jambu trees
with a brown rattan basket,
she was silent. And so was I.
As the evening smoke sets in
and the sun wilts away,
her frail body rests on a rattan chair
while her deep eyes would gaze at her orchard.
I would hear her move again,
walking down the cement steps
and into the kitchen,
lighting the charcoal stove
in the sunset hours
of the smokey evening.

("Orchard Dreams" first published in Asiatic, June 2009)

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