Issue 7: Vahni Capildeo, Four Departures from 'Wulf and Eadwacer'

Four Departures from ‘Wulf and Eadwacer’

(i) reverse

It takes nothing from you that I have him —

            Bunched up in your ruins, you cannot lose.

He works alone.

Two sides of one city hide us.

Things fall apart, worked roads recoiling.

            Your lot would siphon grey from graveyards.

            Bunched up in your ruins, you cannot lose.

He works alone.

Near him I narrow to survival mode, wink out;

cannot say the time the place the mood,

hardly the aspect or the gender; again

we did nothing, we did nothing.

Could he for once be nobody’s business —

            All too brightly meaningful

            ringbound dossiers flashing their backs,

I reach for the sleep he’d implanted in me;

turn my thorax inside out.

No pen and ink does it justice —

A Stanley knife lullaby score.

(ii) outside

‘What was so lacking in the upbringing we gave her that she had to go off with a stranger, one of them as well; she’s worthless, no getting her back, but so long as they’re in touch with each other they’re within our reach, for globalisation is also on our side. Their so-called love’s as natural-seeming as the rain that falls with bitter charge, entering through the eardrums of our not-so-young houses to ancestral designs he only hopes to repossess. She’s torn — it is transparent —about throwing in her lot with a fancy-passport foreigner whose hyena ways must make her sick. Best not lose sleep over prayers that her bastard will self-destruct in the womb, taking the mother to some lesser mansion in Heaven; never forget she is one of us, after all. A satisfactory solution will be found.’

(iii) inside

If the present could be bloodier —can’t imagine how.

Dear Lord, I never intended this.

You were one kind of invasion, and another,

And it won’t stop raining.

‘I gave us all up?’ To him. For him.

            Dear Lord, I never intended this.

We made notes only in mud or on pieces of wood

for burning, burnt; for cementing, trampled.

What can you hope to recover?

The nightjar stuck in my throat?


Eliminating all others from this poem save yourself, man, and what it made it worse, the brutality of your reception /well we have left a misfit serenade, anachronistic whispers, slit of a wolf’s eye into which to post a brazen letter // ring around that // one comprehensive guiltfear package presented via compressive anticipatory history // ring around that // and if a wood were to turn on its own trees /  hurt by their individuality / and the seas rise up / in  a perilous access of island envy / and our coastal regions take sides about natural processes / pitting churchmen against border guards against architects against weathering / could we make ourselves call what we have / a gift // one wanted or unwanted // I’d be first to destroy it, my bad love, without doubt

Vahni Capildeo (Trinidad/UK) is a Contributing Editor for the Caribbean Review of Books. Her third full-length book is Dark & Unaccustomed Words (Egg Box, 2011). Capildeo has finished a fourth poetry manuscript, Utter, and is also collaborating with Trinidad’s artist/writer Andre Bagoo on a photometry project; however, her focus is shifting to prose