Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
24 February 

Here are time’s whippet fingers
running on, lifting the boy
who lies beneath the bowing oak tree
casting rhymes;
he barely breathes
before she has him by the ankles,
twirling his stockings,
barely a breath or rosebud kiss
upon his lover’s cheek,
a rush of ice beneath his feet
as he sweeps down the frozen river
to the sea, before
the last few seconds of the century
usher him on, a woman now,
learning the artfulness
of her own body
and the tricks that time may yet
have up her sleeve,
tugging her bodice, pulling her up
and on, into a circle, spinning,
lamp-lit, and the stark realisation
of the present moment.

Orlando runs at the Manchester Royal Exchange until 22 March

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