Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart. Oh so Proustian with all the hawthorn too.
Dillenia indica- the elephant apple tree. Image Wikimedia
Hamlet said a king could pass through the guts
of a beggar. Well, I was not prudish.
I was dependent on the pachyderms.
My genes went on elephantine journeys.
They were spread far and wide by these creatures.
They did their business – pat!- while I would pray.
Firstly, of course, they had to eat my fruit.
(Don’t ask me why Elephas Maximus
assisted me and was so efficient too.)
We had a symbiotic arrangement:
if you scratch my back, then I will scratch yours.
Only, I haven’t seen them for five years.
I am hoping that they will not forget.
Their cognitive map used to bring them back;
if it’s true they have all been poached, I’m stuffed.
They would recall when my seeds would ripen.
Humans don’t need them in the way I do,
but, as heavy horticulturalists,
these so-called Gardeners of Asia,
would lumber in a positive fashion:
not pulling down forests permanently,
but merely clearing a space for others.
Now we have Empty Forest Syndrome.
I have to drop my seeds around my base.
Sure, monkeys, rodents, bats and birds oblige,
but my sphere of influence is curtailed.
Here I stand: Dillenia indica,
last of my kind. I can do no other.
Humankind’s nine billion seeds may not last,
for men don’t follow the ancestral paths;
they don’t see the elephant in the room,
but argue about constituent parts.
As in the fable, they are visionless.
I am the last Elephant Apple tree.
I can teach you about good and evil.
Image: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration Reservoir and Research 2015
Yes, there are three of us in this marriage:
the shrimp couple and me – Euplectella.
It’s a symbiotic relationship.
They live in, rent-free, and vacuum for me
(food and utilities are included)
and have access to my crystal palace –
a conceptual, aquatic Grand Designs –
styled innovative build; a Habitat
lampshade, rather than Liberty lighting.
Shrimps grow into their own imprisonment,
enmeshed and limited by their own greed.
As a species, they are basket cases,
but accept that life is a compromise
and, at best, brittle and precarious.
The kids always leave as soon as they can,
but end up in the same situation;
hard-wired to repeat parental choices.
As bioluminescent chandelier,
I light up their narrow lives and they look
out through trabecular net curtains at
a profound darkness, filled with predators,
who, like voyeurs, spy on their every move.
Some find beauty in us when we are dead:
museum cabinets’ dust collectors.
Like Venus, we are not so delicate:
we strengthen co-operation until
all the oceans run dry; seas turn to glass.
Trust us. We are the transmitters of light.