She was always a gardener, now trapped in chair,
beached there in the sitting room, while the hardener
of arteries, and time, stopped her in their tracks.
She was strict with the space, never letting weeds
take over in place of the things she really wanted,
though Marestail haunted her through every spring.
I can’t remember when I decided to bring the garden
in to her, to show her what was still there, to snip
buds, and place them in jugs, to open with sunlit care.
I only ever took one of each thing, the scented stocks,
the ladies smock we’d let creep in, hypericum blooms
took in sunshine, let light fill the shady quiet room.
The best flowers were hard to keep, wilting to sleep,
then dying a crisp brown death, a ring of petals a mantelpiece
memorial. I had never had a tutorial in flower arranging.
Yet, I continued, at each visit, to make an effort to give her
a little taste of her own medicine. Something to look at
through the hours, the gentle magic of home-grown flowers.
Down the Line
A: (counts more than thirty rings, taps foot in frustration)
M; Hello, oh, hello.
A: It’s just me, Mum.
M: Yes I know.
A: Are you ok?
M: Yes, fine.
A: What have you been doing?
M: Well, my garden’s a terrible mess I’ve been out there until now, haven’t I.
A: Did you see the moon?
A: It’s a supermoon, the biggest one this year, if you look you’ll see it rising behind the flats.
M: Oh well, I’d like to see it.
A: Well, what’s stopping you?
M: Well, if I go out in the garden, I might fall over and nobody would know.
A: But you just came in from the garden?
M: I’d be all alone, all night.
A: Take your mobile phone, the new I got you for your birthday.
A: Have you started using it yet, like I showed you?
A: No, I know you haven’t (exasperated), because you haven’t opened any of the texts I’ve been sending to see if you’re using it.
A: I thought you wanted to get into it?
A: It would be a shame to miss the moon.
M: I could always shout for the neighbour, but I don’t like that man next door. He spits. In the street all the time. And the language, you should hear it.
A: Why don’t you turn on your phone?
M: The other neighbours, those boys next door, well they must be well into their thirties now, they saw me in the garden today and they didn’t even say hello. And you know, how it says on the news, that we should be helping our neighbours and the elderly? Well, they just smoked their cigarettes and went back inside. I don’t think they leave the house now and they haven’t for years.
A: (Long exhale) but we don’t know what’s going on for them, do we? Not really.
M: I do, and it’s disgusting.
M: Their behaviour. Disgusting, the way they behave.
A: The moon is up now, I can see it here from the study window. Go to your back door and we could look at it together.
M: I’d like to see it.
M: I might fall over, there might be a moth.
A: But you’ve only just come in to answer the phone
A: Turn on your phone, then go and enjoy it.
To Whom It May Concern – An Arachnid’s Complaint
I write, with great difficulty, to complain about the situation, in which I find myself and my family put in danger. We web dwellers, worshippers of fly and aphid and only recently upsized our family home, from pot to plant. We have scaled brickwork and now reside amongst the ivy that creeps up the front of the house, the creeper we thought the humans liked.
We have mostly been safe, and safety is important to spinner and stitchery. We are used to sidestepping from hydrangea to crab apple. We will admit to occasionally mapping the geometry of the human entrance way, spinning sneaky silver then spying, to see them step back in surprise, then swipe through with a silly smile.
Something in the current climate has changed the humans. They no longer come and go as they once did – they are always here, and herein lies the problem. They have started doing far too much of the thing they call gardening. We think they might have done this elsewhere before, we have seen barrowing off up the road with boots and tools. Now it seems they have a plan, to which they have committed wholeheartedly.
It began with soil sifting, seed sowing, and general clearance, which pleased resident birds, but progression has been relentless. Pruning, trimming, snipping and stripping, with stainless steel blade, loppers and secateurs. Every snip comes closer, forcing us to scuttle from place to place, in the most undignified manner. We have spent today scurrying and slipping, abseiling to web ends, we can no longer snooze in the spring sunshine for fear of snipping blades.
So, we respectfully request that whatever is happening to make these changes kindly desist, and maybe whatever it is could come again in the depths of winter, when the humans are sure to hibernate.
Yours with sincerely longing for repose,
The Garden Spiders.
Alison Jones is a teacher, and writer with work published in a variety of places, from Poetry Ireland Review, Proletarian Poetry and The Interpreter’s House, to The Green Parent Magazine and The Guardian. She has a particular interest in the role of nature in literature and is a champion of contemporary poetry in the secondary school classroom. Her pamphlet, ‘Heartwood’ was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, with a second pamphlet. ‘Omega’, and a full collection forthcoming in 2020. More info here.