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Thursday, May 06, 2021


 by Susannah W. Simpson

Photo: The Seemapuri crematorium in eastern New Delhi, on April 29, 2021. "As India's second wave of coronavirus sweeps through the country, bodies are piling up faster than workers can cremate them or build new pyres… Demand is so high that Seemapuri crematorium has expanded into its parking lot, where dozens of workers construct new cremation platforms from bricks and mortar. There is so little space and so many bodies that families have to get a ticket and wait in line for their turn." —CNN, May 1, 2021

Delhi... 2031... 

Blue-grey haze hangs low over
bundles of bodies and bundles of wood.
When the wood runs out, blankets
and chairs, shutters, both yellow
and green serve double-duty to carry
and to burn, ashes—snowdrifts
of mothers, daughters, uncles
float on the Ganges.  No one left to fill
Diwali lanterns with oil, no one left
to string up lights, to sweep or wash streets,
no one left to weave marigolds into their hair,
or wrap saffron saris round the young and old
no one left to feed the water buffalo,
or to tie ribbons to their tails.

Susannah W. Simpson is a hospice nurse. Her work has been published in The North American Review, Potomac, The Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, POET, Nimrod International, Poet Lore, Salamander, Xavier Review. Her poem "Lily" has been anthologized in Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press, UK), and her book Geography of Love & Exile was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2016. She holds an MFA from Bennington, a Ph.D. from SUNY/Binghamton and is the Founder & Co-Director of the Performance Poets of the Palm Beaches.