swallowed shadows

Somewhere in the middle of your bouquet of words
a bee sting pricks the walls of my heart.
Its heat beats through my chest.
Its venom cooks my face.

Salty viscous tears
slide through my soul
and never marry air.

You are a swallow
swimming through the shallows
of my balmy calloused skin.

Intangible shadows rally
and lie in wait
for later sabotage
when echoes of your words
will waft their fetid fragrance
and send you hot and fluttering
through the tender empty shallows
of my ever hungry flesh.

Brenda Warren 2012

NaPoWriMo Day 12
Yesterday’s prompt at NaPoWriMo asked us to consider our senses, which is where this piece took root. Then it took its own direction, and wound up with swallowed shadows. It almost feels like two different pieces to me, but it’s day 12, and I’m tired. It will look completely different to me in the morning, they often do.

Thank you for your support this month. It’s nice to know you read my work.

12 thoughts on “swallowed shadows

  1. The first two stanzas were so powerful, I really couldn’t concentrate on the last two stanzas… almost like when someone hurts you so badly, you can’t really focus on anything that comes immediately afterward… I hurt for this narrator!


    • Thanks Nan…that might be why the flow changed. I wasn’t sure where to go after choking back sobs…. The rest of it came later, to add length. I like the image of the swallow, and understand the feelings…but yes, she is a bit forgiving at the end.


  2. Brenda, I like your use of alliteration through out the piece. It does start off as if the speaker doesn’t like the abuse, but it turns at the end. This is a piece of writing worth exploring further, imho. Like you I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with writing, and I haven’t returned to work yet, jeez…



    • Thank you, Pamela. I do want to explore this piece further, but will wait until summer. My boss is encouraging me to teach summer school. I want my summer to be mine for writing, but I also love my students. BIg decisions. It’s my second day back at work, and I’m keeping up so far. But here I am, spending my lunch reading, responding, and commenting. There’s never enough time, is there!? Good luck with the rest of the month. I look forward to reading your work.


  3. Brenda I can see how this would fit in that larger piece that explores abuse. As often those trapped in those types of relationships find it difficult to escape because while they crave attention – they only kind they receive is often just to be ‘stung’ and used. We had a friend who allowed herself the false hope that things would get better until too much damage was done. And finally, though broken and disappointed that she could not ‘change’ her partner, was able with support to finally move forward.


    • Thanks Jules. You’re thoughts about abuse are right on. I volunteered for several years in a battered women’s shelter, and was the victim of abuse myself as a younger woman. I sure appreciate the thoughtful comments you’ve been leaving for me. You rock!


  4. Often there are people who speak with a ‘bouquet of words’ with smiles on their faces, but inside of the bouquet comes the bee sting, almost so subtle that at first you don’t realize it…and it may be a while before one even realizes one has been stung. I think the first stanza and the final stanza could stand as one poem, as they seem directly related, and the middle two stanzas seem to have their own direction. Maybe I’m wrong.


    • Thank you Viv. Love or hate? I’m not sure either. I chased the idea of being desperately hurt by someone’s words…and wound up sounding like I crave it at the end. I’ve been working on a larger piece that explores abuse (for submission to a journal). That piece definitely resonates here.


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