this country
thrust up in spines and knuckles
folded aslant and again folded over:
ankylosing rock and soil
into shark’s-tooth ridges, sheer cliffs torn whole
from a world entirely the wrong way up
and hills that must be achingly stepped and terraced
ropani by ropani
for grain and all human things to stand

and worn – sawn through and scoured
to the marrow of rock
by fine threads of water
making their way from sky to sea
bearing millennial torrents of stone
to litter river-beds like long-forgotten toys

and spearing through sky and soil
in annual deluge –
a dacoit carrying off soil and crops
people and cattle
whole hillsides

the scars still visible in exposed earth
and haunted eye


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