Bees and Birds

 by Badri Raina

When was the last you saw  bees and birds

Sing or chirp their free-floating fancies,

Settling on or passing by  that expectant

Tree or twig?

Or droves of raucous rooks homing in

With sharp  collective mind

Into  a Peepal of nooks and cranies

With the soothing fading of the light?

The sparrows  that never failed to dot

With  teeny delight the ground below

Our feet, or the parapet above—

Into what undiscovered country have

Their  soulful little wings  taken flight?

Or the bulbul that used to feed like spoiled child

Off  my  mother’s unfailing palm?

Nothing may bespeak  our hollow selves

More than the  fact  that our rejection

By bees and birds  touches us not.

Our brains  emptied of thought,

Our  hearts no longer wrought,

We are  eyes without sight,  bodies

Without souls, cacophony without calm.

Our leather skin and metal mind

Find  solace in purchases of similar kind.

Lest you think this a backward-looking lament

About  “modern life,”  disfigured by nostalgia,

I am here to tell you that modernity

Need not have been so crass and  fatal,

But something pretty, provided  our reason

Had looked beyond our skins, embracing

Equally  the thorn with the petal,

The  sweet pea with the nettle.

If only we  had  done to the universe

As we wished the universe to do to us.

Alas,  our   unrepentant  prowess,

Our  brainless scramble  may sooner than

We think mix us back with stone and bramble

In one  unlovely molten heap,

As the seas climb to the mountains,

And the  cities that   glitter sink into the deep.

August 11, 2012

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