Poetry

Liquid Gold

“Today, more than 21 million Indian farmers tap underground reserves to water

their fields … in the past decade Vietnamese farmers have quadrupled the number

of tube wells to more than a million. Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Iran and Bangladesh are

not far behind. Outside Asia … Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Morocco. Even the US is

busy emptying precious groundwater reserves in order to grow grain and beef for export.”

Fred Pearce, New Scientist, February 25, 2006

New cracks and wrinkles in the skin of the earth

I close my eyes and see rivers rush—wet bank

Needs five tonnes of water to bring rice to birth

Pumping to make barren land grow fruity worth

Climbing out backyard pool, shaking shine and shank

New cracks and wrinkles in the skin of the earth

One tonne for flour to make bread in home hearth

Rainwater collects in corrugated tank

Needs five tonnes of water to bring rice to birth

Pour-over advertisements—sprinkler’s rainbow mirth

Washing the muddy dog—all wriggle and spank

New cracks and wrinkles in the skin of the earth

Green stretches and blue hills drought, tanning to dearth

Long showers, body rivulets, hair a sleek hank

Needs five tonnes of water to bring rice to birth

A lean line from headland to forest-stripped girth

Crossing the flooded building-site, plank to plank

New cracks and wrinkles in the skin of the earth

A twenty-tonne wait for coffee to our berth

This thirsty day—a tall, iced water to thank

New cracks and wrinkles in the skin of the earth

Needs five tonnes of water to bring rice to birth         

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