Cherene Aniyan: Lament for the Coucal

Lament for the Coucal

Looking out the window so long, I have forgotten
how to say my name. In the garden, a coucal hops
Mother calls it a good omen and sneezes twice.

Inviting luck in, I remove my lungs to make room
for her. Cayenne pepper eye aims for me, then
takes flight, remnant of blue string still tied to left foot.
Five years since I last slept, now I keep watch
at the town square reading palms and psalms.

How far down how long a rope should someone be
to tie good luck to a tree? Shops have put up
funeral tents, workers have gone home
sans lung sans luck, they go back to wheat
fields they sprouted from. Cameras found Tyche
stealing in at twilight to free her crimson pheasant.

Downpour plagued the town for a fortnight,
bird nowhere to be seen. Townsfolk gather with make
shift drums to bring her back, mother weeps
at their superstition. I dream of eyes dropping
from heaven, manjadi seeds falling like hail. A thousand
blinded coucals in flight, flapping terrified like choking men
descend on treetops, crash into clothing lines, plunge
into wells, ride bicycles blind, steal cars, steer
trains, the earth thick with luck, leaving neither room
nor air for collapsing lungs.

Cherene Aniyan is a 19-year-old from Kerala, India. She attended the International Writing Program Summer Institute 2019 at the University of Iowa. Her fiction has been published in the anthology, Multitudes.