Ogbuji

Spider trees of Sindh

Only water of Earth’s great elements
Could leave such unsympathetic moonscape,
Each crater marking one family’s loss.
The farmers set at zero only shrug,
Tallying scant remains of livelihood,
Paid up in tithe to Hap, their ruthless boss,
Whose charge deserves extraordinary receipt:
Death mask wax spun into candy floss.

Frozen balloons of these alien sculptures,
Egg sacs of furies spread in locust host,
Superhuman mine fields spent to dross,
Hairnets of a million dragon djinn;
Fine-spun gossamer up close zooms out
To blooms of fungus, clots of ailing moss,
Cored thunderheads, bonsai mushroom clouds,
Death mask wax spun into candy floss.

Up close again, the stricken folk of Sindh
Faced with Indus of Kali’s compound limbs,
So literally many rivers to cross,
Find humor in their occluded legend:
What imp contrived to sew up the mosquitoes
While Lord Shaitan unstitched the bounds of chaos?
Such light perspective strains at ageless grief.
Death mask wax spun into candy floss.

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Note: “Spider trees of Sindh” is a companion poem to this famous photograph.