I am about to push off this rain-stained carapace
and display the flamboyance of my scarlet youth.
Should I do it today, in this damp light
or shall I wait for the best of the sun?
I know I look cool but inside I'm scorching -
my mascara longs to assail you.
Crumpled silk and dark-red veins crinkle
with the effort of escape. Already my outer petals
are curling at the rim, vermilion fading to orange,
fragile as the skin on the edge of a wound.
Oh God, what if you fail to notice
my nail-varnish lure?
What if I fail to shock you?
Lesley Mountain has lived in the North East of England longer than she's lived anywhere but people still ask her where she comes from (Sheffield since you ask). For many years the nearest she came to creative writing was social work reports pleading leniency for boys who'd pinched milk bottles off doorsteps. However she took up writing 15 years ago and now writes poetry and short stories. Vane Women Press published her first poetry pamphlet Hunting the Air in 2004.
In 2007 she reached the final shortlist for the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award and she is published in the competition anthology Shape Shifting (ed. Jan Fortune-Woods) as well as widely in other magazines and anthologies.
In 2010 she won the James Kirkup Memorial Prize with the poem The Timewasters, and as a result Red Squirrel Press have published a new pamphlet collection of her work, Dance of the Disappointed (December 2010).
She is a part time tutor on Open College of the Arts writing courses, and also works with people with learning disabilities, improving access to community activities. Any time left over is devoted to a wild garden and a tame bicycle.
She says "This poem was written during a series of workshops run by Linda France at the Chesters Garden, Northumberland (which has sadly since closed). It was the time of year when those huge red Oriental poppies start to force their way out of their buds, and something about this one reminded me of a pre-teenager aching to be let loose on the world."
Read Lesley's previous Diamond Twig poem of the month: Monster.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Poppy emerging © 2011 Lesley Mountain: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.