Kandace Siobhan Walker: There Is A Man

A poem about egrets and ecofeminism from this year's winner of The White Review Poet's Prize

I saw Kandace Siobhan Walker for the first time two years ago, opening for Jack Underwood and Wayne Holloway Smith at the Hannah Barry Gallery. She was quiet and powerful, the images in her poems fizzing aspirin-like into meaning and colour without crumbling. Her performance stayed with me and I followed her on Instagram hoping to read and see more of her. Cut to the present, and she’s just won The White Review’s prestigious Poet’s Prize (you can read one of her poems here) and she’s given Cheerio Publishing an interview about her writing. Kandace Siobhan gave me There Is A Man to publish and I’m very happy to have done so. - Roisin.

Here's a poem, mostly about water buffaloes and egrets, which have a symbiotic relationship. An attempt to de-centre human beings when thinking about "the world", inspired by readings on ecofeminism and ecocentrism, indigenous American/African creation myths and 64 Zoo Lane, a cartoon about a girl who lives next to a zoo.

THERE IS A MAN

Even water buffaloes dream. In their creation myth, 

the white bird brings down the sky like rain

in her digits. And the sun just keeps rising forever. 

For the egrets, the great water buffalo, like a workhorse,

drags up the ground from the water so they can land. 

Clearly cows are in communication with something

divine. Everything that bathes and wallows, even in mud, 

commands an inner life. Underwater light is visible 

as tractor beams, pulling up. In the air its true nature disappears. 

There’s a reason gods come down as animals so I’m doubtful we invented belief. 

Elephants adorn the dead, chimpanzees dance for heavy rainfall. 

Every one has a language, the failure is ours. It is not only biology 

why the buffalo taxis the bird around the waterways.

I could argue against human exceptionalism but 

even in this title, there is a man. At the end of the world 

the egret pulls the sky down again, and there is darkness.

But what do men know of the world without men?

- Kandace Siobhan Walker