‘My heart burns
from the middle
to the edges
when I think of you’
Bleeding Flowers by Shay Siegel begins with a selection of poems written for someone long lost; the someone we all have dwelling in our past who knew us as we once were. ‘We Were Who We Were’ is a wonderful, nostalgic ode to missing someone you no longer know, ‘You Weren’t There’ demonstrates how the memories we keep and hold onto are always a distorted reality, whilst ‘The Friendship Necklace’ reminds us everything must come to end. Siegel also explores the grief and hurt which accompanies loss in pieces such as ‘Sweet Lies’, ‘Slowly’ and ‘Roots’. These poems warn us about how falsehoods can be lullabies, sometimes it is too late to change a situation, and often our roots are strangled by those we believed we could trust.
‘I feel you,
pressing existence out
through the seams of my skin.’
Siegel continues to stun as the collection continues; ‘Within Her’ is a sublime and visceral portrayal of self-worth and innocence being lost.
Yet, Bleeding Flowers also offers the reader a taste of hope.
‘Teach me how to be heard
how to live in the open
like a whistle of wind
‘The Flower Grew’ is a resounding message of hope; ‘Sandcastle’ sings of the healing and escape which comes with a visit to the sea, and ‘Tree House in the Woods’ is simply one of the most beautiful poems I have read in a long time.
All the while, Siegel never loses sight of the soul at the centre of it all and how we are often defined by our possessions. Such as ‘The Red Sweater’, a poem about the importance we assign to objects. It is a reminder that even though loss and healing feel overwhelming; they are emotions which can begin and end with us. We do not need to wilt, we can bloom no matter how much we have bled.