Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Filmed at the National Poetry Library by Takis Zontiros, 2019.
You have X% of genes in common with this
common wasp, bothering your breakfast
scaling the juice jug on six sticky feet,
striped abdomen dippy with desire.
How stupidly it zigs and zags,
weaves tangles round your head,
seeming not to notice luscious black cherry
smears on the knife, figs oozing juice.
But now, insect lexicographer,
it sees that words are good to eat.
Thready yellow legs find Bonne
raised on the surface of the jam jar;
proboscis measures along
the trade description, list of ingredients,
then comes to rest in palpitating bliss,
getting its tongue round Maman. Maman.
When the surgeons opened my mother
they found the rarest orchids –
the five-wounded sacred sleep
with ruby splashes on each bloom,
a blue-black hybrid like a bruise,
the dove orchid next to the flower in the form of a yellow serpent.
My mother's song orchids sang to me
when I crept into the operating theatre
to say goodbye to her. Without flinching
I looked at that place where I once cowered –
landing-petals shaped themselves into lips and tongues
to whisper goodbye back.