Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights

Natalie Tombasco


Somewhere between Eden & Hell, Virgin & Venus, I am
the pearl-plink girl being carried away in a mussel shell,
away from sweet-smelling cherry pits, serpents mingling

with tendrils, away from the soft-porn that goes on inside
giant strawberries—pricks of leg hair, pulsating seeds—
away from carouseling anti-vaxxers, doomsday preppers

& constitutionalists, the genetically-modified Antichrist
germinating within a broken eggshell. A greedy little man
gouging on the flicker & spark & eureka! of underground,

magical black stuff. O triptych of thick-tongued chaotic,
where do you hinge? Father taught me to tend the tilth,
to dead head paradise on anything unzipped, unfurling,

on fleshy figures frolicking, mewing cutely in their amniotic
bubble world. I’ve dipped a toe into that wasteland spacescape,
so groovy & pyro-dream: charred black from consuming

boreal forests, Sumatra, LA traffic, the blueprints of trust-
fund babes. April is the cruelest month, I chant, I hyperventilate
into the carpet as the outside gets greener, meaner, even the birds

are distancing as I throw white bread to the ground like
Hello, Clarice. This garden, its blues, greens, browns, goes on
delighting—the sparrow keeps giving her all, stirring song

with paint, but paradise has gone tasteless as a stick of Juicy Fruit.
Whatever happened to the dodo, the great auk, Flint?



Natalie Louise Tombasco was selected by for the Best New Poets anthology 2021 by Kaveh Akbar, Copper Nickel’s Editor’s Prize, and as a published finalist for Cutbank Books chapbook contest with her manuscript titled Collective Inventions (2021). She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and serves as the Interviews Editor of the Southeast Review. Her work can be found in Gulf Coast, Black Warrior Review, Diode Poetry Journal, Cincinnati Review, Plume, Hobart Pulp, Peach Mag, Puerto del Sol, among others.

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