Friday Poem – ‘Flamingo’ by Kathryn Bevis

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Flamingo’ by Kathryn Bevis from her pamphlet of the same name. If you missed the online launch for Flamingo, you can watch it back now on our Youtube channel.

This cover shows a surreal still life painting of four flamingos poking their heads out of a blue and white patterned vase. The text reads: Flamingo, Kathryn Bevis.

Kathryn Bevis’s critically-acclaimed debut pamphlet Flamingo introduces us to a troupe of wild, unique, and captivating poems. Life and our own embodiment are brought sharply into focus as we encounter a variety of subjects including work, survival, love, and mortality. Formally inventive, these hopeful and sometimes surreal poems are not afraid to confront complex or difficult emotions. Cancer is posed as a ring-tailed lemur, capering through the sufferer’s body, and the title poem imagines death as a flamboyant transformation where the speaker shapeshifts into the afterlife. Each poem is a discovery and a joy.

My love, when I die, I’ll turn flamingo:
fall asleep, face tucked in on the pillow
of myself. Even as you cry, I’ll be stepping
from the bed, feeling plush, pink tulle tutuing
from my hips. My legs will telescope, grow
thin and rosy. I’ll sense my feet web, feel
a new itch to stamp and stir, to suck up
larvae from the bottom of the lagoon.
In this afterworld, some days I’ll fix
one foot in mud, find infinite repose:
the poise of a yogi in prayer. Others,
I’ll gorge myself, filter feed on brine shrimp
from the salty shadows. The other birds
and I will grunt and growl over the choicest
cuts like church women bickering
over rosettes for jam at a country show.
My love, do you know that the dead all flock
together? We meet at the saline lake, dance
our shuffle-legged shimmy, flick our heads
like tango partners, flag and flap our
scarlet scalloped wings, heads bopping, nodding
to the beat. Do you see? After the illness,
after the grief, the pain — as you will do,
sweetheart — the dead must learn to love again.

Flamingo is available on the Seren website for £6.00

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Watch the recording of the online launch for Flamingo back on our Youtube channel now. Kathryn is joined by guest readers Vicky Morris and Jonathan Edwards.

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