Image by Caroline Forbes

On Not Writing As A West Indian Woman

Vahni Capildeo


On Not Writing As A West Indian Woman

Vahni Capildeo


Poem introduction

I take no issue with identity politics; but here’s a manifesto for the imagination.

On Not Writing As A West Indian Woman

For those who jumped ship and drowned because the herding of people was intolerable

If you get my drift. She –
not containing oceans,
nor a spice triangle,
won’t boast that cinnamon
could launch femme announcements
over the bounding main:
set course for my rich shores.
No allure for sailors.
Blackout drapes in her home.

If you stick with me. She –
hasn’t cooked cassava,
nor become a mother;
might gatecrash Carnival
flaunting last year’s costume
and fall down in the dance;
rack up a huge phone bill
louder than a toucan,
vexed and still calling home.

She push the boat out. She –
on a far-flung causeway
prisoners handbuilt, ice-clawed,
take her pants down, rime-clawed
over sunken warcraft,
pissing into the wind?

Birthcries repeatedly
new, self pull out self, self
issuing that self home.


from Dark and Unaccustomed Words (Egg Box, 2012), © Vahni Capildeo 2012, used by permission of the author

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