A bird came down to rest
on a rocky perch.
Turned his head
this way — that way.

It looks familiar, he thought.
the cerulean skies
the trees with foliage on tall, slim trunks
the large red flowers in bloom.

The river gushed white
roaring its way down from its birthplace.
Through rocky mountains and green hills
it cascaded unstoppably.

In the plains
the sun’s light danced
on the white rapids
to become a translucent sea green.

Then the river turned a sharp angle
and meandered dressed in muddy brown.
It crossed through heat and dust
until it lost its cool.

Shining red as blood
it made its way through a hamlet.
Is it the remnants of the rhododendrons’ hue?
Shut up, you romantic fool!

The bird hopped down
to a rock below.
The viscous water flowed reluctantly
spreading the unbearable stench of humanity.

The bird dipped its beak
and shuddered at the nasty taste.
Angry and scarlet faced
the river flowed on regardless.

The bird came down to rest
but flew back restless and uncomprehending.
As it soared back into the cerulean skies
it flashed upon his inner ear.

“Can’t you get it, you bird-brained fool?”
A voice in the hamlet shrieked at another.

Gita Viswanath is a Baroda-based writer. Her novel, Twice it Happened, was published in 2019 by Vishwakarma Publications, Pune. She is also the author of a non-fiction book, The ‘Nation’ in War: A Study of Military Literature and Hindi War Cinema, published by Cambridge Scholars, UK in 2014 as well as a children’s book, Chidiya. Her poems have been published in Kavyabharati No 28, New York Parrot and Coldnoon. Her short stories have been published in Muse India, Borderless Journal, and Commonwealth Union. Her short films “Family Across the Atlantic” and “Safezonerz” are available on YouTube.