“Nature Has Gone Paintballing” by Cathy Bryant

Nature has gone paintballing, judging 
by the colours. Balls of fuzz-buzz bees 
nuzzle the freckled innards of foxgloves.
The smallest frog in the world sits on a log
and is too shy to sing. Potato flowers flap,
a papery lilac shade, in the breeze. 
It's just my garden, but you'd think it was
all commissioned for a gentle rural drama.

The Welsh poppies have a colour 
that is seen or felt inside the deepest kiss.
At night, snails use the poppies as trapezes
doing acrobatics in slo-mo. Then they eat the trapezes.

My spouse grew me a heart-shaped potato and melting peas, 
companion-planted with flowers of my favourite blue.
A hedgehog visits to drink at night, eyes glowing,
and is snouty and slurpy at the water bowl.
We all find spaces to make life work.
I watch the hedgehog; it glances at me.
A moment's eye contact, species to species,
and then off to our respective rainbow worlds.

After being homeless in her teens, Cathy Bryant worked as a shoe shop assistant and childminder before submitting her writing. Her latest book is ‘Erratics’, a poetry collection from Arachne Press. Cathy lives in Salford, UK, by the Moss that kept the Ancient Romans at bay (too marshy for them!).

This poem won the first place prize for the Crystal Ox poetry contest in Winter 2023.