She walks on the charred ground, wings of smoke
from the bones of her home rising.
‘Here was, there used to be, and here…’
remembering every corner, each avenue of the story.
Certain they have achieved victory the enemy leaves,
laughing, ‘What’s one old woman?’ with no idea –
she’s the one who knows everything.
Can whip up from the bloody froth a beginning.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2015. 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 2015 was Ken MacLeod.
Part of a cycle of poems exploring war through the eyes of one who has never been in war, and who – like many readers – knows it only as reported. Like Harry Giles in his astonishing poems about ‘the drone’ in the same volume, Williams cross-examines how we in advanced, peaceful lands are implicated in and affected by war and violence – safely distant in the real world, but close-up and pervasive in our virtual worlds, as media, social media, and entertainment. The final line has a double edge.
I love the Greek word ‘logos’ and its many meanings. While it can be translated simply as ‘word’, it has been used over the centuries to refer to the creative power of the universe, the animating word of God, the rational principle of reason, the essence of divine wisdom and much more. In this poem, I hoped to convey the notion that it is our logos, our creative ability, that even in the most hopeless of situations empowers us to reimagine and rebuild.