The Girl in the Garden

The girl in the garden has just lost a child and has realised, for the first time, how red blood is on a clean white dress.

The bundle lies face down in deep grass with limbs splayed like a swastika. The girl has a long face and long eyelashes and she is crying. She closes her eyes and tears roll a long way down to the corners of her mouth. Her feet are scratched, her head slung heavy – sweat soaks a dress already slick across her back.

She has killed a daisy. It squirms beneath her bare heel like a snake. Fibrous green insides are fraying, and the head is ragged. She tries to stand but falls and does not get up. She frowns, chews her lip. Suddenly her mouth erupts into a deep and mournful howl. The keening cuts, bounced off bramble.

Perspiration prickles on her neck. Stems pull taller, plucking at the root. She is not alone. A stork is flexing its legs in the green. Its wings snap open and throw a silhouette across her face. A jumble of shadows lengthen towards the garden. The tall bird plants a stalk-leg between her thighs. It lowers its neck to collect the bundle.

All screaming stopped, she stands. She is swaying from a hollow centre in her belly, supported and collapsed from a point below her navel. Her toes hold the grass blades like yarrow stalks. A dozen aphids swamp the derelict daisy.

Summer is inside the garden, over submerged and disused pathways, a corridor of trees crisscross lawns waist high with weeds. Oranges thump off their branches and collide with lemons. Gentle beyond measure the great bird lifts against a red smear of sunlight. Balancing the bundle, it joins a distant brightness.

Then dogs start to bark, and she can hear voices.