Betel Leaves and Areca Nuts


You get the peppery betel leaves
And the areca nuts, a seemingly innocuous practice
Embellished with slaked lime, and the mouth
Instantly turns to crimson tides
Of churning color and in that bloody red paste
And a seemingly strange practice of chewing a biological brew
Lies a tradition of tea pluckers and rubber tappers
Of a folk-mainstay of slicing an areca nut
With a giraya (scissors), and wrapping in betel leaf
To smart the mouth with narcotic fire

After all, what can a woman with a few hundred rupees do
But to fade out to a cheap stimulant
For areca-powered lips are anecdote-spindles
Preserving folktales, reverberating legends
As they sit around a bowl of areca nuts and betel leaves
Sharing stories, laughing out in banter and droll
Grating the nuts with areca-nut scissors
Slipping through miserly cracks of reality
Ushering in a virtual blackout

And in this nepenthes of nut and leaf
You find the springs of Lethe
Seeping through mental tributaries
Injecting a dose of oblivion – to a tattooed mind
Painted of reality ink


Published by

meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist, who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. Dilantha wrote his first poem at the ripe age of 32 and now has more than 1700 poems on his blog. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry and Ravens Perch, among others. He was also awarded the prize for "The emerging writer of the year - 2016" in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka for his first collection of poems (Kite Dreams – A Sarasavi Publication), while being shortlisted for the poetry prize. Dilantha is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Australia, and shares his experiences from two different cultures. He blogs at - https://meandererworld.

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