by Helen Oswald

In the end, we never made it to the Pavilion

but preferred instead to imagine

the gauche chinoiserie of Regency folly,

a camp flourish of minarets standing out

against the bitter English rain.


We closed our eyes and conjured faux Indian

domes knocked out from a nation’s first

concrete casts – brown and smooth

and looking, for all they’re worth,

like cardboard.


We paused to recall the mudslinging

of hoi polloi, their descendants now

baying for Gehry’s blood, his daring

to aspire on the seafront. This crowd

would throw up Tescos for a Kubla Khan.


We meant to come in praise of whatever it is

that insists against the odds upon gilding

a dolphin on a lamp stand, that craves

primrose rooms and chandeliers shaped

like fuchsia blooms hung upside down.


But most of all, we liked to picture

a garden inspired by a glutton whose devotion

transported peonies, erected hollyhocks.

We see ourselves drowsing among his poppies,

inhaling the cheap scent of those blousy stocks.