Vicki Feaver lives in South Larnarkshire in Scotland and divides her time between painting and poetry. ‘Marigolds’ is from The Handless Maiden (Jonathan Cape, 1994) which won a Heinemann Prize and a Cholmondeley Award and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. The Handless Maiden has recently been reissued by Jonathan Cape.
Not the flowers men give women –
stiff red roses, carnations
the shades of bridesmaids’ dresses,
almost sapless flowers,
drying and fading – but flowers
that wilt as soon as their stems
are cut, leaves blackening
as if blighted by the enzymes
in our breath, rotting to a slime
we have to scour from the rims
of vases; flowers that burst
from tight, explosive buds, rayed
like the sun, that lit the path
up the Thracian mountain, that we wound
into our hair, stamped on
in ecstatic dance, that remind us
we are killers, can tear the heads
off men’s shoulders;
flowers we still bring
secretly and shamefully
into the house, stroking
our arms and breasts and legs
with their hot orange fringes,
the smell of arousal.
Published in The Handless Maiden (Jonathan Cape, 1994).
Read more about Vicki and her work at Contemporary Writers and the Poetry Archive.