we set the field on fire.
Flames a white lineleaping
between darkness and darkness
flickering dancers swaying
into the brightening sky.
Stubble burning quickly clears the field
and is cheap. Kills weeds, including
those resistant to herbicide.
Kills slugs and other pests.
Dawn is red
across golden stubble. Cut short
and burning. Don’t ask them
why. If you ask them why –
because they always do it that way.
The annual air pollution disaster is
almost upon us.
The wind changes.
Smoke blows back across the field.
There are ominous signs
in the Punjab. If the trend continues,
Delhi could become again
a veritable gas chamber.
Cover your face. Quickly.
The negative health effects of crop burning
will also lower the productivity of residents
and may lead to long-term adverse impacts
on the economy.
Quickly, cover your face and run.
‘Soch Vichar’ by Wendy Toole was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.