Tuesday, 1 May 2012

MayDay Flash - 'Fallow' by Nicola Belte

The ground is dry as I dig down to the roots of the oak tree.  I place your necklace, my hair and the heart of a pig into the hollow, and smooth it over with dirt.

I’m not a superstitious man.  I never used to be a superstitious man.


I took time off.  

I came to my parent’s Cornish cottage. I tended flowers in the garden, made nooses from twine to keep the beans growing upright while my spirit sagged and crumpled.

I tried to see hope in the spiralling of the swallows, in the crocuses and the daffodils. Night smothered it, like heavy black boots on saplings.

I am a city man.  I used to be a city man. 

I don’t know what I’m doing here.


I dreamt that you’d returned, as a tree.  I wrapped my arms around the knots and curves of the trunk. I thought of your hair, falling down your spine, in coils and waves.  Butterflies and ladybirds settled on you. I could hear your laughter in the rustle of the leaves, trapped, as if at the back of a grate.


You were the pagan, I was the puritan.  You left mascara on the sheets, I arranged our DVDs.  You kept silver nail varnish in the fridge, for your toes.  I ironed my collars.  Opposites, who made a whole.


The children dance around the maypole, with flowers in their hair.

A festival of fire, fertility, of re-birth, new life.

I know that you’re never coming back, that you’re part of the earth; that you can’t come back. 

But maybe I can.

I light the sticks around the tree.  This predates Christianity, predates all that I was told.

I never went to Church; I was never a religious man. 

If this doesn’t work, there’s nothing.

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