Ajay Kumar is a student and writer based in Chennai, India. He served as the student editor of Abhivyanjana Magazine for 2017-18. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Bangalore Review, Eunoia, Literary Yard and Amethyst among others.
The garden at the end of the forest
If a tree could be called a forest, my mother has a garden
beneath the back wall-
okra in a grow-bag, tomato in a pot.
Watered by the overflowing tank sometimes, & sometimes
when the little things make it more than just a noise outside
the window- the whole family pausing, each from their own,
independently discovering a strange island-
Is it raining, mother asks.
It is raining, father answers.
It is lightning, sister says, & will thunder.
like frogs climbing the wall next to the garden,
& bathroom doors swelling up in an available desire
of ajarness, a voluntary retirement. On sunnier days-
mother complains that the okras are too soft,
don’t get all they want from true earth, & tomatoes
have to be picked orange, because it doesn’t rhyme,
& squirrels bite into ripe red ones like a boast.
I imagine trees talking in lava under crust,
getting all they want, not in sounds but in light or in things
between light & sound, like a thought, a smoke, a stuck-out tongue,
I imagine trees doing hushed paperwork & then wash my face-
like a long song, or a short one sang slowly- with a soap
in the shape of things-
a rose, the pyramids, a Pokémon, the moon.
& at the midnight tick-tock of the clock I’m a brick more,
not of a wall but of something so expansive that it is, becomes,
the very opposite of a wall, something which can encapsulate
my mother’s garden in all its glory & all its wants-
magnesium nitrogen potassium
white mud love
sun moon sky
brown wind solitude.