‘Red Rose City’ by Rosie Breese

Red Rose City

Red bricks, blushing redder at sunset.
Red as flesh held tight.

Not rock, but pressed roses.
We lean close and smell
the sun fermenting inside each brick.

This is how summers have grown to house us.


They say
          the light held within these bricks is older than we can imagine.
They say
          to lie in these streets is to mould the earth to your shape.
They say
          the roses sold in florists are mere imitations.

They say
          when you love, you’ll know
          strangers know this city when they arrive.


Here, your sudden weight has me
pressed like a flower. Here,
cobbles knuckle my spine.

Centuries of roses ghost on our sweat.
Your warmth travels me; lays me
open as this hot summer sky.


Lying here with you,
                             I understand vertigo. The fear
of waking up alone, flattened by this
depth of light.

Fingers grip.
A reddening kind of panic.


Come closer. Let me see
the sun shrunk inside your pupil.

The imprint of the city walls
on your retina. A souvenir.

The rose with its colour intact.
Rosie Breese is a Cambridge-based writer and editor. Her work has previously appeared in 3:AM Magazine, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Poetry Review and Poetry Wales. She reviews experimental poetry pamphlets for Sabotage and is currently working towards her first collection. Follow her on Twitter @rosiebreese