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Open 11am to 8pm
Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday - Sunday from 11am to 8pm
Artwork by Paul Peter Piech, 1991. Words by Shôson. © the Estate of Paul Peter Piech
Close to home, their prints
darken the snow.
Come full moon,
the whole night is anguished –
stagger in their sheds
knocking the walls,
churning fodder and litter;
wide-eyed in lamplight
they buck and bruise.
culls worked like clockwork –
wolves skinned from their pelts
were hung out to dry,
as cotton stretched to new horizons,
as Kazakhs ate the dust.
Now fences are mended
bolts shot home
and the shotgun propped
by the bed
is oiled and loaded.
But sleep, sleep is fitful
as the lost packs mass
on the steppes of Kazakhstan.
Masked, gloved, brush tucked flat
against her back, faint with heat
this vixen is silent at soirées,
attentive to talk of defence, the public purse.
Emissary from the wild woods, agent
from the other side, she shakes her head
at wine, at canapés, she gags on human
stench, their meat and sweat.
When taxis come, she slips through kitchens,
drops to all fours (still in black tie),
sprints along the back streets
like a feral duke until she meets the edgelands
where – rubbed on the shuck of a tree –
her man-skin peels off
like a calyx and the sleek red flower unfurls.
Tongue drinks in the cold,
nose down in leaf mould, deep rush and tow
of attachment, of instinct. I, the only witness,
take this for a resurrection (body sloughed
and after-life as fox-soul), so I watch
in awe and slow my breath until
she catches sight and howls and howls.