THE TREE OF MAN

The flowers of the Strangling Fig
are fertilised by wasps.
Its fruit is delightful
to green pigeons, hornbills, macaques
barbets, gibbons and langurs
and ends up in their guts.

From there the seed
finds its way to a moist spot
on the canopy of a suitable tree.

It germinates and spreads down
a lattice of roots which reach the ground.

Once tethered there, it gives up feeding
on its unwilling host
and finds its food in the earth.

After many years it encloses
the tree like a shroud,
its crown overspreading
the top of its prey,
cutting off its light and killing it.

The support tree decomposes,
leaving a hollow, but structurally sound,
Strangling Fig.

(Poem from BAMBOO LEAVES)

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