post #11: in the temple of the banyan tree

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

from church.

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

 

2 thoughts on “post #11: in the temple of the banyan tree

  1. Foremost, your ending phrase “beyond the boundary of childhood” made me think of a time of wonder even in my young adulthood. It was a time of adventure, buoyant confidence, and hope. I miss that; lately I have frequently considered needing that space of spiritual comfort and challenge.

    What vivid senses you appeal to with men in tiger cages (this sight is ghastly), fragrant curls of incense deeply smoked, sugar cane (my tongue tastes sweetness even now), cradled in its coiled branches (an embrace of touch?), on and on. I like that this is a poem of faith that involves the whole body, not an abstract argument of heady theory only.

  2. I am curious if you found something in your cupboard for this hour’s prompt that evoked this evocative poem. I loved many lines and this one especially: ‘although memory patinas like an amulet’ and the repetition of the title in the poem…

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