Vignette I: Anthusae

Image courtesy of Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The flowers can hear you, Grandmother always said.

And, of course, as a child, I believed her. I would follow her out into her garden and into the rolling field beyond the back gate, basket in my arms, wide hat on my head, and whisper the name of each flower in turn. The flowers would bow their heads and dance under the lightest touch of my hand or my breath.

But then, of course, I went off to school and my learning came from books and dry old men with glasses perched on their noses, and I learned that Grandmother was mad or dotty or superstitious or just a woman. The answer depended on the dry old man with his glasses sometimes perched on his nose, sometimes hanging from a chain, sometimes pinched between his fingers as he offered me a pained smile.

And Grandmother’s voice faded from my memory, as did the scent and sight of the flowers and how they bowed their heads at the lightest touch of my hand or breath.

I grew up and older, and Grandmother grew older still, wondering in her letters why I no longer followed her out into her garden and the field beyond, basket in my arms, wide hat upon my head.

And then the last letter came, and the awkward pats of condolence, and the small gathering of friends and family around the casket. And when they had all gone, I stood for a long time staring out the back door at her garden and the field beyond.

I whispered a name, and then another, and another. And at the sound of each, the flowers turned their heads, offering welcome.

I opened the door, and I took up my basket and my wide hat and made my way out into my garden and the field beyond.

[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her publications can be found there.]