In the temple of the banyan tree
set within the circle of a zoo
where men were kept in tiger cages
and children held out sugar cane
to friendly elephants
I saw where gods lived.
On the fragrant curls of incense
deeply smoked into the banyan’s
ropy branching coiled walls
god(s) floated, whispering
a name I did not recognise
This, I knew at once,
was where god(s) lived.
Here among the tree’s silver
grey limbs, cradled in its coiled branches,
mystery and wisdom played cards
bargaining for knowledge.
Nothing has changed
although memory patinas like an amulet
and I am trying to remember
what I heard so long ago & far away
in the temple of the banyan tree
just beyond the boundary of childhood