I can’t explain it in any other terms, she said, waving her hands in front of her and gesturing at the trees. I can’t read the papers any more. I can’t watch TV. I know what’s coming. It’s like this every time. Whoever wins out, it will be the same. We’ve still a month to go. And then here, this morning, it hit me. The nettles are coming up, those little purple flowers dotted around. And there’s this stench. It’s meant to be spring but something already smells of decay. Breathe in: can’t you smell it? You know what’s coming.
She fell asleep worrying about the tremor in her heart. She awoke wondering about the tension across her skull. Maybe she really was critically ill. Maybe she should see the doctor. Those late-night and early-morning hallucinations of gunshot riots, rabbiting politicians, redactive summit meetings, those rabid howls of the naysayers and cynics and dreamers and do-gooders, the sheer wall of white noise as rhetoric reflects ceaselessly around an almost voided mind and beats hard through the bloodstream in a fast, mounting surge. She was dying. She went to the doctor. The doctor confirmed her suspicions. Everyone is dying, he said.
Cow parsley, she calls it. Hollow green stems rising out above lush green grass. I had always known it as Queen Anne’s Lace. White caps of tiny flowers like little parasols, umbrellas.
The May rains have come and gone.
We take the dogs out down the lanes. They know the hawthorn and the giant rhubarb near the river: smell it all. They know every stretch of our routes – but not as well as she knows them. She is hiding something beyond the obvious. She squints at blossom, nettles in flower.
Something is buried: a secret like pollen in the air.
We danced around the Maypole
With the ritual midst of faeries crowned
The queens of spring with wreaths
We welcomed up godesses
And all givers of life
And laid amongst the flower folk
Who ended winter strife.
We hoisted up the banners
And marched streets with flags
Scrubbed grub from working shoes
And belted up our rags,
To celebrate time’s rebirth
We sang comradely song
Resounding tunes of season’s worth
For past and suffering long
We pitched tents on heathen squares;
Made concrete just demands
And to swell the city’s purpose
Washed its feet and then its hands.