Strangler Fig Trees
At first you hate them, these parasites
who lash roots
around a host tree, roots
you’d readily take an axe to,
merrily merrily whack to bits.
But then you’d be a killer, too.
And wasn’t the Strangler Fig a lot like you:
born of a seed that sprouted limbs
reaching skyward for warmth
and down to soft earth for stability?
But those first thin roots,
pale yellow threads,
how they’ll gorge on a host tree’s water,
until they thicken like well-fed snakes
and encase the host’s trunk,
while, high above, the Strangler’s leaves
will overtake the host’s canopy
until everywhere is Fig
and the host dies in parched darkness.
But by then, the adult Fig,
with its fine-veined, glossy leaves,
will have itself become a host
to an orchestra of new creatures:
green parrots, toucans, fruit bats and silver monkeys,
who without the shelter of the Strangler
would find the sun soon abusive,
the jaguars too near,
and the local diet so deficient
they’d sing dirges in praise
of the lost flowers, their vanished fruit.