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Nurse's Tales, Retold
Because the east wind bears the semen smell of rain,
A warm smell like that of shawls worn by young women
Over a long journey of sea, plain and mountains,
The peacock spreads the Japanese fan of its tail and dances,
And dances until it catches sight of its scaled and ugly feet.

Because the koel cannot raise its own chicks —
Nature’s fickle mother who leaves her children on doorsteps
In the thick of nights, wrapped in controversy and storm —
Because the koel will remain eternally young, untied,
It fills the long and empty afternoons with sad and sweet songs.

Because the rare Surkhaab loves but once, marries for life,
The survivor circles the spot of its partner’s death uttering cries,
Until, shot by kind hunters or emaciated by hunger and loss,
It falls to the ground, moulting feathers, searching for death.
O child, my nurse had said, may you never see a Surkhaab die.