Alexandra Melville 71
day of the cockroach
the day the cockroach came we fought nine times.
that week we mopped the floors, scoured the hob,
lugged the fridge from its sentry post, tossed away
the spiders, gagged on the sweetness of insecticide.
we set our careful traps; caught nothing. the pills of
poison lay untouched, crumbled like old love hearts.
be mine. sweet lips. i dreamt of mandibles nibbling
my eyelashes. cannibalistic limbs, invasive antennae
earwigging my thoughts, hooked, seismographic feet
measuring the tremor of my heart, assessing whether
to run or resist. they are not afraid when a harsh light
is turned on around them. invisible currents illumine
their world. the pressure of approach; a relay of soft
breath rippled through exoskeleton. their knowledge
is carboniferous. older than dance. or love. intuition
born of survival. they know when the jig is up, when
to hang on. i unpack my suitcase, refold socks. observe
your eyes at night encased like wings, switching back
and forth, watching imagined roaches raid our walls.
i warm my cold feet against yours. i listen to my soles.
Alexandra Melville is a writer and educator living in London. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rialto, Lighthouse, Brittle Star, Mechanics’ Institute Review Online, and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and featured in the National Poetry Library’s Instagram Poetry exhibition. She has been long-listed for the Poetry School’s Primers Prize and is currently an MA student in Creative Writing and Education at Goldsmiths. She rarely tweets at @ADotMelville.