‘The Chorus’ and ‘My Daughter’, poems from ‘The Back-To-Back Classics: Within the Wooden O’, recipient of UEA’s 2016 Malcolm Bradbury Prize
Tell me what blessings I have here alive, / That I should fear to die? — Hermione, ‘The Winter’s
There she is, costumed in leaves, the mute bird, my daughter.
She looks like she has things the world needs to hear, my daughter.
Where have you been? What did you see? Oh, my daughter,
did you fall in love? And how badly did it hurt? My daughter.
She almost looks the same. I want to kiss the head of my daughter.
When I missed her I feared I’d lose the newborn scent of it. My daughter.
My little absent life force. I’ll keep saying it, ‘my daughter’,
until people think I’m mad. Maybe that’s what she’ll say, my daughter,
to all her friends once this is done — I’ll call ‘where is my daughter?’
and she’ll say that’s her, my mad mother, mum. Speak up, my daughter,
my sparrow, because I remember the men coming to take my daughter
in the night. They turn you to stone, my daughter,
given half the chance —
leaps up and makes for the stage
Speak, speak, my daughter,
let me touch her, my daughter,
Ushers restrain her
don’t rob me of this, my daughter,
take a chisel and hack away, my daughter,
Leontes, look at her, save her, our daughter…