Sunday 19 July 2020

The Anthropocene – how I wrote a poem from Tiger Girl

A Gond myth tells how, "When the peacock dances in the forest, everything watches, and the trees change their form to turn into flaming feathers".

If there is a single sound that evokes the tiger forests of India it is the call of peacocks. When I hear that call I can see the trees watching as the male dances, his fanned tail shivering with an infrasonic hum, while a tiger prowls in the grass nearby, waiting to pounce. According to the Gond tribe, who once lived in these forests, the peacock's dance can turn the trees' branches into plumes, each evergreen sal leaf an eye.

I came across pictures online of a Chinese bride wearing a dress and train made from three thousand peacock plumes, and this, together with the Gond myth of the trees transforming into peacocks, and the series of storms and hurricanes circling the Atlantic at the time, sparked my poem 'The Anthropocene', which was recently featured in New Statesman, and will appear in my eighth collection, Tiger Girl, published by Bloodaxe this September.

The Anthropocene


A bride wears a train

            of three thousand

                        peacock plumes


She walks down the aisle

            like a planet

                        trailing her seas


every wave an eye

            shivering with the memory

                        of the display


how the trees turned

            to watch as the bird

                        raised the fan of his tail –


emerald forests

            bronze atolls 

                        lapis islands


every eye

            a storm

                        held in abeyance

Photo credits of peacocks in Bandhavgarh National Park © Brian Fraser 



  1. I loved the poem from the moment I started reading it in New Statesman and it's really interesting to get the backstory and these beautiful photographs - thank you!

    1. Thank you Rivka! I really appreciate your comment, hope you're having a great week, Pascale x