Monday, April 19, 2010

A News Sonnet A Day for April 2010: 19

I've set myself a goal for National Poetry Month this year: Compose a sonnet based on a science-themed news story each day.

Today's installment takes its cue from "Mercury surprise: Rice can be risky" by Janet Raloff at Science News.

A Grain of Exposure

In Ghizhou province, inland from the sea,
Rice paddies mean nutrition needs are met.
But nearby mines and methylmercury
Have sullied crops and introduced the threat

Of neurotoxic poison and disease.
Bacteria contribute to the strain.
Pollutants, spread from heavy industries,
Are taken up into a crucial grain

Consumed at more than half a kilo's weight
Per day per person as the average goes.
Do paddies elsewhere share this tainted fate?
Could trade deliver an unwanted dose?

Subsistence farming, done in poverty,
Is woven with the globe's economy.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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