They were trees
One, two, three … blazing countlessly
Village in chaos
Forest on fire.
The trees were bidding each other farewell
Where now will the birds settle?
What has happened to their little wings,
their tiny feet?
Were they able to fly to safety?
The trees, half burnt already
but worrying about the birds
Where will they build their nests?
Where will they search for food?
Have they found a place to rest?
Have they found other water holes?
High in the sky
From their branches spread in the air
It had been hours since the birds had flown,
Leaving each tree to burn in the forest,
Yet the trees
were still aflame
with concern for the birds and their young.
Are the incarnation of the mother
lighting the hearth fire,
Or of some goddess.
The trees were burning and saying,
No oxygen will emerge now,
Not from our ashes.
Where and what will the birds breathe?
We will not be alive for the flowers any more.
From what will the bees
make their honey?
If from this fire
Only our roots could be saved,
We would burst forth from the earth again.
The sap of the soil would remain,
As would the source of air.
The deer would be born again,
And the rustle would be heard
of the rabbits.
The air-dance of the butterflies
would be seen once more and,
On the roots, branches, and leaves, their cocoons,
The parade of colorful caterpillars.
The sight would be seen again of chestnuts being cracked open
by clever squirrels.
The garden of the earth
Would bloom anew.
The trees were also worrying
About the air, the water, and the fire
That was consuming them, saying
Once we are gone,
What will keep it ablaze?
Concerned for adversaries, oppressors,
the existence of everyone,
such a soul of a saint must be a tree.
Those who root themselves in the soil
Cannot leave the earth in peril
And fly away.
*Translated by Mahesh Maskey and Himali Dixit