The culvert and the tree

The tree, at the corner of the locality,
And the culvert underneath its branches wide,
Twin companions to a forlorn mourning me,
Recovering temporarily from a loss
Permanent, of a father loving, now
No more, his broad visage haunting
My young teenage troubled sleep,
A man simple and honest, reading romantic poetry,
During his free time, travelling with his
Favourite Wordsworth and Keats,
In green meadows and verdant vales,
Seeing daffodils dancing and
Hearing song of the solitary reaper
And the enchanting nightingale,
The man always smiling, bearing the angina pain lightly,
My dear dad, battling life, never giving up,
In an India of late70s
Teaching us the finest values, his three kids,
And instilling in me, a love for great arts,
That fine man—suddenly gone forever,
To reside with gods,
And this pain, this yawning void,
Left behind due to a lingering
Bereavement forever living
In an aching heart;
I, a thin sad lad,
In perpetual mourning,
Always—in remembering mode
Of the joys of his endearing company,
Now gone, this great man,
I came often here, sad and battered,
And sat on the lonely culvert,
And the tree, on long summer nights,
And early winter evenings, cold and desolate,
Smiled and whispered,
Here we both sat—Father and I,
And he told me about richness of life,
Alone sat I, bereft of his soothing presence,
And heard the old tree talking to me,
Like a caring companion that understood well
Mortal pain, loss and shortness of human life,
The culvert—solid and broad—like the lap of
A father departed, comforted my anguished heart,
I sat stock still and watched people go by, and felt
As if rocked by a pair of invisible hands broad and gnarled,
The hands of a working honest man, now living in
The glittering stars, and remembering him,
As the cold gloom descended upon the quiet
Often, unseen and unheard by the cruel world, I cried.
And then, the magic would happen—
Years ago, a cold wind would spring up
From the heavens and blow down,
The old gnarled tree would fan my
Pale-thin face with its hands
In order to dry those big tears,
And calmly whisper in my ears,
Weep not, my solitary child,
Those who get enthroned and totally,
Consecrated in a caring, full and
Longing heart, their scented shrine,
Never fade away and die.
After the brief communion,
Cleansed, my pain dulled,
I would leave both my friends,
The red-bricked culvert and the
Neem tree behind, to be hugged
By a sweeping December mist,
And perhaps, visited by some
Other grieving mourner,
Seeking this solitude divine.

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About Sunil Sharma

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 22 published books: Seven collections of poetry; three of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award---2012. His poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, in the year 2015. Sunil edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA: For more details, please visit the website:

8 thoughts on “The culvert and the tree

  1. Louis Kasatkin

    Not for nothing was Sunil Sharma garlanded with our inaugural ICOP Poet of the Year accolade for 2012.With exemplary work,again and again such as this the reader is continually rewarded.The characteristic depth of emotional honesty and consistency of philosophical perspective are just some of the reasons why poems like this demand our fullest attention.

  2. lokesh roy

    remembering one’s father is an emotional matter and very terrifying if we were to go a step further to imagine how it will gnaw our sons in a similar situation ! But they say poets live through their poetry & in this case the poet tries his best to live up to it !

  3. Louis Kasatkin

    Destiny Poets’ International Community of Poets ( ICOP ) are pleased to announce that for February 2013 , the following works have been chosen in the categories of Poem of the Month and Highly Commended . Poem of the Month * Landfills – Reena Prasad…..***In the Category of Highly Commended – * Butterfly -Ramesh Anand…*Child’s Play -Shalini Samuel…*Don’t call me free -Ogunjimu James Taiwo…*Don’t let it be seen -Jan Christian Sorensen…*In a strange land -Viji Venkat…*Love’s strong -Jobale Wihnope…*Morning walk -Gopal Lahiri…*Ropes -Mary Annie…*The Culvert and the Tree -Sunil Sharma…*Those silent promises -Sangeeta Suneja…*Valentine’s Day..-Michelle D’Costa…*Vanished reality -Tapeshwar Prasad *** The ICOP Poetry Critic ( Bi-Monthly Award ) for the months January/February 2013 is Lokesh Roy.


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