This ritual is not intended to cleanse
This ritual is to wash away the ritual
The removal of the roofs is intended
to restore a sense of the original roofs
The grandeur of the buildings which were wiped out
may be reconceivable by the sky’s grandeur
To return it to sand how can you say that
(of course you didn’t) when it was not raised from the sand
To repair it with open water courses
where was water’s deeper hiding place from burning air
To plant it with orchards how can you plan that
(what grows) a foreign-owned desalination plant
The veins of this earth are baked with alphabets.
View strikes as vascular surgery on plaqued earth.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2019. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2019 was Roseanne Watt.
I found it very difficult to choose between Vahni Capildeo’s poems; they are a poet who displays such an exquisite range of form. In the end it was a close call between this poem and ‘Response to Zaffar Kunial, Us (Faber and Faber, 2018)’; an absorbing poem-review of Kunial’s debut collection. What kept drawing me back to this poem was the fascinating register of it, which grows increasingly into something like the dark incantation of a machine.