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After the flood
by Zhenyan Li

After the flood, setting a beautiful new text by Emma Harding, is a piece about separation, loss and grief, and how our experience of these becomes projected onto the natural world. But there's also the sense that the cycle of nature continues regardless of our individual human tragedies and that there is, ultimately, consolation to be found in that.  The voices work almost as one, splintering and merging, while the theorbo echoes and comments almost like a third character. 







Emma Harding is a writer and BBC radio producer, specialising in drama and poetry. Her poems have been published in various magazines and anthologies, and a stage play, The Thing Itself was produced at Jermyn Street Theatre in 2019. She’s also written radio dramatisations for BBC Radio 4 and previously participated in RAM’s Opera Makers programme. She is currently working on the libretto of a chamber opera, Behind God’s Back, with composer Joseph Howard. Her debut novel, Friedrichstrasse 19, will be published in spring 2022 by John Murray.

'After the flood' by Emma Harding

Black branches

fracture the sky

a single magpie.


The dark river

near spate

you on one bank

I on another.


From the reedbeds

sad flute

of the curlew

silver light

on the marsh.


Your laughter

the ripple flash

of sun on water.

Your face

The shadow

In the flicker of reeds.


I tell my grief

To the heron

Who dips and weaves

How yesterday

We lay hand in hand

In the leaves.


In this life

Without you

Who can tell me

Who I am?


The geese

are flying back

The word


In my throat is


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