Saturday 26 June 2021

'My mother is a garden where other people grow' by Leonie Rowland

When I was born, I grew out of her: seeds from a flower, catching the wind.

When my grandma died, she grew into her: violets spilling into roses, purples replacing pinks. Watching from a distance, I learnt that death repurposes rather than uproots, that the ground does not mean silence, that everyone needs somewhere to go.

At first, I plucked the violets. They grew on her arms, her chest, blooming like bruises. I tied them together and made a garland, placing it on her head. ‘There,’ I said, ‘repurposed.’

After that, they spread to her mind. I blamed myself for planting them too close, for closing the circle like one of my grandma’s fairy rings. My mother spun through the house like a tiny storm, twirling, turning. The garland was a halo, a glowing crown of thorns.

Once, I found her naked, standing in front of a full-length mirror. She pressed her hand to her heart and said, ‘She’s here.’ Purple spread from her fingers, mottled her skin. I knew then that I would have to bury her, cover her with soil so she could start again. I was scared that my body would look like hers, uprooted and trembling. There was no more room.

Do we become our mothers, or do we become the dead? These days, when I undress, I have them too: purple flowers scattered across my chest. I cut their stems and place them in vases, but there are too many now, and my room looks like a funeral parlour. My mother wouldn’t know if she saw them—she would think they came from her.

Sometimes I imagine her floating through a field, just above the ground. My grandma is there too, drifting beside her, not quite touching. Below them, the earth is full.



 First published at Tiny Molecules in their 8th Issue (Spring 2021).

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