Violently Bashful

Melanie Tomkins

Editor’s Note from Ian O’Brien: I heard this poem performed at the Coalition open-mic event, which Mel is co-founder of. I love her poetry – the imagery, the word play, the strong character voices she creates. This poem showcases Mel’s talent with imagery and her love of nature. I love the ambivalence, the fiercely evocative bloom of nature contrasting with the solitary speaker, hiding in a still world. The result is a wonderfully dramatic metaphor.

Like the narcissus root,
I am violently bashful
Sitting on the bedroom carpet 
Searching out silver-fish as
They scuttle and hide
Clothed in my dust-feathered skin cells.
Just one heavy breath is disaster
Their confettied finale sends 
A death-shower that shimmers
In the slatted light beams of autumn.
It is now time to plant bulbs in the borders
I admire their naked charm 
Unremarkable capsules bound 
To deliver a Trojan spring
Incognito mud-dwellers
Dormant saboteurs
Sleeping insurgents put back to bed
After a bad dream.
After planting, I pass the time projecting
Hollywood vistas onto the 
Magnolia walls of the bungalow
Occasionally glancing outside at the soil
Waiting to hear precocious whispers of life
From each stomata 
And to see primary green veins
lifting leaves in the merciful fury of birth.

Melanie Tomkins lives and works in Greater Manchester, UK. She has a master’s degree in American Literature and has been an educator for over twelve years. She most recently became a co-founder of the writers’ collective Coalition who hold monthly meetings in the market town of Stockport. You can find her on Twitter @Mellio00484451.