peacocks herald monsoons
elaborate tails grow and spread
discerning a difference in the air —
the land astir, rouses
from a prolonged sleep
yellow skies and the sun shifts
to shades of lavender
a leaden band of louring clouds
like a dam primed to burst
and rain like chair legs
lashes the land
cries in every crevice
crushes scent from flowers
people vacate houses
where rain pummels tin roofs,
floods verandas and courtyards
or step out of sweltering cars, lift faces
to the pelting rain, relish every drop
rain triggers lush new growth
fresh pastures for wildlife
cows and dogs and pigs no longer
scrabble the streets to drink.
The Yamuna river swells
into purple dusk
as water buffalo cross in the shallows
where displaced sandbanks
have changed the contour
of the river and the land.
In the morning margin of sky
a blush dawn bursts on the warmth
of swarming-insect buzz
wild boars wallow in accumulated mud
but the onslaught of floods is feared.
Glamping With Hippos
I’m glamping on the shores of the Nile
at the precise point hippos leave the river
each night to graze.
In daylight, it is tranquil, enchanting,
miniature islands of vegetation glue along
the water’s flow
sun-mirrored river, breeze-stirred trees
tweed smudges of elephants on the opposite bank,
and after the roke
darkness descends with sudden abruptness,
yet all around it’s in motion, has shapes,
A huge storm – sheet lightning swells my room,
an abstract thunder booms, a rebellion of rain
though muffled on the tuft of thatched roof.
It is possible for baboons to clamber into the bathroom,
for snakes to slither over the half walls, for hippos to cant
the tent to one side — m’aidez.
Two minutes after retiring, the grunt and huff
of hippos, lumbering and squelching
on the grass outside my tent
and I am too nervous to look, because
if I can’t see them I can pretend they’re not there,
so close, so dangerous.