Europe


By Rakhshan Rizwan

They are digging the cities, not for gold, but for
origins. They have found beneath the brittle floors
of Cordoba, the remains of a Visigothic church,
and beneath the church is the Oracle of Delphi,
and beneath that a fisherman and a wishbone,
and underneath it, coils of the Dead Sea Scrolls
in the Aramaic language which speaks of floods
inundating the earth, and under that, the menacing
tail of a Chinese dragon placed
on the bodies of Muslim kings wrapped
in Mongolian carpets adorned with the buteh, the paisley symbol
soaked in royal blood; they have found broken pieces
of Chinese pottery and recipes for embalming
cats. Under that they have found an enormous
Buddhist stupa, a monk still in the lotus position,
the seventh Sikh guru;
they have found the manuscripts of Aristotle,
the libraries of Baghdad and Alexandria,
the Roman Parthenon, a tower of Pisa
which doesn’t lean, the degenerate paintings of Picasso,
and Indian diadems.

They are restoring The Chess Players,
the fasting Buddha, the mummified cats, but they are getting
the order wrong; they are re-arranging the manuscripts,
burning the libraries; they are keeping the unleaning tower,
and Picasso’s Guernica; they are keeping the Parthenon and
Aristotle, but Europa on her bull is rounding-up the Sikh gurus
and the Spanish Iberians and driving them to the precipice of history.
They have taken paisley captive and retained the Kohinoor,
but nothing else. Europa’s long, blonde hair
trails all over the cathedral.
She supervises the undigging, the constant
unexcavating. 


Rakhshan Rizwan is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Papercuts, Cerebration, The Missing Slate, Blue Lyra Review, Postcolonial TextThe Ofi Press Literary Magazine, Yellow Chair Review and Mothers Always Write. She is the winner of the Judith Khan Memorial Poetry Prize.