A haibun (a fusion of haiku and prose) from Meaghan Delahunt for Bhopal.
early in Bhopal
the siren sounds
to the late world
Midnight, December 3 1984. The world’s worst industrial disaster. Over a long period, Union Carbide cut corners at its factory in Bhopal. The cooling systems didn’t work. The safety valves were turned off. People lived in the shadow of the chemical plant in homes of tarpaulin and tin. They lived right up against its walls. They woke unable to breathe, eyes streaming. They ran into the streets with their children. There was the smell of burning chilies, the survivors said. The poison gas spread over the sleeping city and the alarms sounded too late. In Old Bhopal, there were no telephones. Only the knock on the door, the voice through the window, the cries of a neighbour to ‘Run, Run.’