There will come a time when you will pass a certain mailbox, well known, but you can no longer turn up the driveway.
Perhaps it will be a bright midmorning at the end of winter, and you look to your friend’s cherished garden. Once or twice there might have been a starving bear; certainly, it was a starving bear that destroyed the flock of hybridized hens—a bit of barred rock, leghorn and Rhode Island—that kept us company on the porch as we sipped smoke and watched the sway of the planted pines. The food forest will be a bit more established this spring, and the orchids in the new greenhouse are promising blooms. All the herbs let gone to seed in the raised beds will offer their children, but you won’t see this grace for the years of work.
Only from the road, but you can see there has been trespass on the garden, the part rewilded by the furthest pond. Where there ought to be young greenery, there’s torn earth. The No Trespass post bisects the ruts made by the uninvited. How many mornings did we share coffee while in anguish over the violence done: the cause of pause to the deer come to dine, and ultimately the death of the dog. Those twenty acres, a wedge of frontage to The Forest, once private refuge now last stand of the trees. All around are houses, the trees destroyed, the birds beleaguered.
When Covid came, suddenly silenced was any reason to go to town. Eventually, essential supplies drew the drive. Our coffee chats included the crowded consumerism of cities, and debates about making more chutney from wild persimmons and that fertile Meyer lemon. The late summer storm downed a tree, and the woodshop again offered a lovefest of work: that bowl from the branch boil is porcelain in delicacy.
As the season darkened, so did health. One cold, cold morning, “I don’t have Covid, I have cancer” …and coffee talk included cat scans and chemo, and idiotic idle dreams. The bitterest cold came, with rare temperate hours at midday. The porch was empty of chickens. The bones in the face seemed to point to the teeth, the bones of the body belie the slender build hidden in mis sized layers of gray and plaid cloth.
And the winter wore on and wears down the body bearing the burden of doctors, doctors.
One morning, there was just screaming, screaming and one word: water.
Four days of phone calls and morphine.
Now, the oak trees are budding brightly and whatever birds there are tell us their stories. Some of the foliage was burnt by harsh midnights unknown to their kind. The county amputated the trees along the roadway, and the garden looks naked—the pond water is a dark circle bereft of birds, or turtles. Eventually, the amber will foam with greenery and the garden will be veiled from the road. You will not turn to lay new tracks upon the sand, because you are now too uninvited: your friend is ashes borne upon water, your day is different—your coffee cup on the counter, alone.
is equal parts writer, artist, and badass eco-feminist. She holds an MA in English and has published in such places as Driving Digest, Exquisite Corpse, and Blue Heron Review (where she was nominated for The Pushcart Prize). She resides in Florida with her horses, dogs, cats, and turtles where she runs The Red Mare Chapbook Series.
Her Etsy website is https://www.etsy.com/uk/people/suzi00
My interview with her is here: Wombwell Rainbow Interviews Artworker: Su Zi | The Wombwell Rainbow