Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Artwork by Paul Peter Piech. Words by William Blake. © the Estate of Paul Peter Piech.
I was seven -
Mummy I said - one of the girls in my class
it’s her birthday - and this evening she’s having
a party - can I go
I put on my favourite party dress - Mum
carefully wrapped up some cheap Turkish jewellery
in a piece of tissue paper - for my gift -
And up the road I went - outside school five
or six little girls stood around - the girl
whose birthday it was arrived with her dad
in the car - and as everybody went to get
and her father sternly followed by saying
I’m afraid you’re not invited - you don’t
have an invitation -
I waited outside of school for as long as I
could - and after hiding the jewellery - I went home -
Mum - asked ‘did you enjoy the party’ - yes I said
it was lovely -
That night - I laid in bed and cried - I cried
myself to sleep - and in the morning I asked -
Mummy, what’s an invitation?
Twilight: the last ferry leaves Vancouver
for the tiny islands.
Tsawwassen blinks out,
rows of bolted plastic chairs
and old vending machines
gone blurred, crossing over.
Sotto voce, a woman croons
under the water, her hair
spilling luminous and phosphorescent
across the depths. The drowned
love this hour, before the stars
are let down like bait to tempt them,
before the steam moans out
and the captain settles back for a smoke.
The others on the boat
talk, drink coffee, drift upstairs;
two lovers stand at the railing
for the sheer terror of feeling
something might happen.
A moment ago they were sure
they would die for each other.
Then the kiss ended -
she leaned a little away,
his arm fell, everyone
turned towards the islands
they knew were out there,
willing them to appear.
I’d call you Judas, but it’s a cliche,
And not even appropriate -
I was always the disciple,
Flesh-weak, forgiven and following,
And to hear you sneer at me was like...
Finding a maggot squirming,
A discovered liar,
At the core of my wet amber fruit;
Or the time I discovered that at Versailles,
In the fondant rooms,
Beside the taut marble and unnecessary gold,
Aristocrats would squat on the staircases
It was like finding out that your lover
Is taking Imodium.
Don’t you know that since the day you laughed at me,
I haven’t been able to so much as look
At a nectarine, fig biscuits or anything French?
Tasting that is like kissing you.