Still noon in the paddy fields
in Kerala, we sank a well
to stem the flow of desert,
but came up smelling of dust.
Watched rice plants wither as the slow sun
silenced resolve in angry glare,
and warm dry gusts scattered
hope to the four corners.
In Palakkad, an empty street, sold
to ten million-dollar-a-day death,
men nurse wounds and children.
The women have gone to find water-
when the supply runs altogether dry,
we may find out how to swallow
the dust. Or our pride. Lesson taught,
we shall learn to drink coke.
Still noon in the baking heat
within the walled compound, we
stand around on wounded feet
spreading slurry on the ground.
So here, at least, is water
(to dampen a capital purse)
So here we earn our living -
a litre a day (could be worse).
Outside, the world is barren,
the earth is cracked and bare.
As boreholes tap our reservoirs
at last we’ve learnt to share.
So desert soil is progress,
and bitter stench is joy.
Infected feet dance to the beat
of the jingle writer’s bitter-sweet
irrigation for the soul.