Poetry Map of Scotland poem no. 94: Glenrothes

Concrete Hippos, Glenrothes
An aetiological myth

One Sunday morning, as the bells
rang from Glenrothes parish church,
a troop of hippos lumbered up
from the river to the open grass
to celebrate the holy day
of the great goddess Taueret.

Just as they were about to start
bellowing to the heavy sky,
entreating the goddess to provide
succulent weed and luscious mud,
a voice boomed from the angry clouds:
‘Worshippers of the Hippo Calf,
you dare profane the Sabbath Day?’
At this, a spear of light flashed out
and turned the pachyderms to stone
before their prayers could reach the ear
of the recumbent Taueret
stretched on her sandbank in the Nile.

Now parents bring their children here.
A mother points towards the troop,
says ‘Hippo’ to her wide-eyed son,
a father hoists his daughter up
on to a hippo’s placid back.


Robin MacKenzie

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