the madrigal, volume v
by eliza davis
honey, the first snowdrops have arrived.
lilac blooms, irises of saffron
in the early crocus. i catch shards of sunlight
in impetuous daffodils; hasty, anxious
not to be eclipsed.
daisies strewn across the field,
winter jasmine, wood violets, kaleidoscopic
in the path i gently trace
to find the pieces of myself long buried.
i hardly can recall their names.
i search the age-torn gravestones:
Betty, aged 2 years
& 6 months. Dorothy, aged 25 days. Harry,
aged 5 years, their little brother. their
would-be little brother. And all our yesterdays are as
nought. the gravestone isn't big enough
to fit the words across one line.
i watch two women across the way,
white-haired, battling arthritic hands
to plant new bulbs in earth they've tenderly,
meticulously cultivated. i wonder who will love me still
in one hundred and thirty years. love me enough
to kneel for hours against heaving winds
and plant flowers in my grave. i wonder if there will be
anyone. i wander through the graveyard,
as the women bow their heads against the pour of rain.
they put away their trowels, contented with their work.
John Armour, aged 78. Joan Armour, 88.
I must down to the sea again
To the lonely sea and the sky
oh, i know those seas. i've been treading water as long as i remember;
choking on the waves, salt burning my insides.
i look for the white-haired women
but they are no longer there. it could be that they never were
but for the mounds of neatly turned new soil,
betraying: I have been here.
i walk for hours. i read every gravestone, thinking
of a children's book i used to love. a little girl
meets a dying fairy. Snowdrop.
spring surrounds this flushing heart, my flesh and bone.
a fairy is born when a child dies; a fairy dies when no one is left
to remember the child. i read every gravestone.
like a child, i make eyelash-blowing wishes, freckled-promises
of kisses to believe magic still might exist.
the sky is clear when i get home. the cat sits with me
as i watch the season come to bloom. an etching;
my assurance. a promise.
I am. Despite it all, I am.
eliza davis lives and writes in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere in england. she started writing when she was seven, and she's a bit better at it now. she is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, though most of her time is spent attempting to keep her pet goldfish alive. it's harder than it sounds. you can find her on twitter @extrasock