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Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Artwork by Paul Peter Piech, 1993. Words by Katherine Mansfield. © the Estate of Paul Peter Piech
Long before we tie the knot, Divorce moves in.
He sits on the naughty step, patting his knees.
Crowned in towel, I step out the shower
and he’s there, handing me a raffle ticket.
He plays kick-about with the neighbourhood kids,
chalks crosses on their doors and buys them Big Macs.
Socking his fist into the bowl of his hat,
he’d kicked the gate wide, that sunny day in Leeds.
My mum was incredulous, “she’s only ten,
she can’t possibly have made contact with you.”
He clocked my young face and handed me his card.
‘Call me when you fall in love, I’m here to help.’
Perhaps he smelt something in my pheromones,
a cynicism rising from my milk-teeth.
With gum, he stuck notes on Valentine’s flowers:
tiny life-letters in factual grey ink.
The future cut two keys for a new couple.
On my twenty-first, Divorce took the spare room.
He loves to breathe down the spout of the kettle,
make our morning coffee taste mature and sad.
He waits by the car, slowing tapping Tic-tacs
down his throat. We’ve thought about stabbing him,
but he’s such a talented calligrapher:
our wedding invitations look posh as pearl.
He bought us this novelty fridge-magnet set,
a naked doll with stick-on wedding dresses.
Divorce and I sometimes sit in the kitchen,
chucking odd magnetic outfits at the fridge.
He does the cooking, guarding over the soup,
dipping his ladle like a spectral butler.
He picks me daisies, makes me mix-tapes, whispers
‘call me D,’ next thing he’ll be lifting the veil.
After the honeymoon, we’ll do up the loft,
give Divorce his own studio apartment.
We must keep him sweet, my fiancée agrees,
look him in the eye, subtly hide matches,
remember we’ve an arsonist in the house.
The neighbours think we’re crazy, pampering him
like a treasured child, warming his freezing feet,
but we sing Divorce to sleep with long love songs.