|The poem is paired with the painting by Shani Rhys James|
The lilies yawn like leopards
caged all day in the hot house.
Back late, we open the door
and an animal breath flows out,
filling the night-garden, bitter-sweet
with azalea and cat-breath of flowers.
Inside, paw-prints of pollens
the colour of blood, soft
blood-beads to stain the fingers,
a petal curled like a cat
on the scratched piano,
scent escaped like a gas.
I inhale it, dizzy, losing myself
in thickets of frond, fern, leaf,
stems and stamens of roses,
wall-paper flowers climbing the walls
of the yellow room, red room, blue room,
in a stink of nectar and damp.
They grow over the windows, the doors,
till I'm spellbound in the story
of a girl-woman tamed and trapped
in a tower in a wood in a thicket
of flowers, where something
is breathing, is purring, is prowling.