The Glass Hammer

(after Bhopal)

Weeds rearing up
like sudden snakes. Skin burns mercurial in light,
longs for water. Past the trees, something waits

with bristling wires. Signs bar the paths
to where children played, braiding dupattas
as fake hair, hips immersed in chemicals.

Rainbow waters, noxious green, and the sky
is a hammer of glass. Old violence is learned
and relearned on our bodies. The sky

is a bivouac for deviant desires. A child’s face
blistering out of debris, a charred torso—
if we don’t pin these to our screens

like beloved snapshots, we may not remember.
The stakes climb higher than skyscrapers.
The tenements glower at daybreak.


That year we held babies in, terrified of what might emerge.

Their fragile heads convulsed our insides. We sucked in cords,

heard the shuck of insects falling at night. They ached in heaps,

flaked off wings like onion skin. We watched for their dying

to pass. Gathering splinters in our arms, we learned our children

were made of glass. Their eyes spun sightless. Godless discus.

We wanted to escape the unseeing of this, trip clear into fields

of wheat. We wanted to lie so close that our bodies fused,

to ease into trust like sunlight through leaves.

Even rain was tainted, green rattling from the sky.

Our bodies opened at their seams. Light rumbled in the distance.

We could almost touch it.

*First published in Walk Like Monsters (Paperwall, 2016). Also in Origins Journal.