Summer evening, before: Eco-fiction by Katy Wareham Morris
Katy’s uses a hybrid structure of creative non-fiction and eco-poetry to discuss environmentalism and its place in the world.
I guess I hadn’t noticed that the bees had stopped. Nature is noisy, so I don’t know how I missed it. No one thought the flowers would die. Even when the heat came, there was no colour. There was no colour that summer. How did I miss it? There was no pure blue sky; no monstrous rhododendrons, azalea, clematis, buddleia, freesia. Not a single buttercup to hold to see if she liked butter; not a single daisy to make a chain for her bony wrist. There, I’ve said all the flowers I know.
Did the grass smell? I did not get the itch and it didn’t need cutting. It was golden but without the energy and relativity to produce glow; no twilight, no twinkle. A miniature harvest of straw blades stood there, crispy under foot yet without sound. There were no noisy bees, so there could be no crunchy lawns?
The sky was a padded duvet pressing down on us, holding us tight to stop our reach, our spread, our busy virility. If it couldn’t breathe, neither could we. Made of charged nylon, you couldn’t look up because you might be zapped by the dark light that slinked between the fleece. The clouds didn’t clear and the red, purple, pink, orange sky never came at night. No shepherd’s delight, no warning.
One day it rained. Was it about 6.30pm? Everyone – everything – else had gone. I remember a sound on my roof; nature is noisy. Perhaps this cleared the clouds. I didn’t stop. How do I know this was rain? Hundreds of brushstrokes licking the taut surface of a bass drum; stippling the skin of an over-blown balloon.
I saw dust on the windowsill, the colour of Barcelona like she had crushed up her chalks again, leaving the crumbs to show me how to find her and choosing the colour of blood oranges and Emperor’s Silk. There was colour. There was warning? I rubbed it between my fingers. If I look closely, the colour remains in the swirling ridges of my fingerprint.
Dust covered the ground outside like when snow falls as flurries and then becomes bigger, thicker. The bigger ones stick because of the tiny, almost unnoticeable flurries beneath. It lay on the ground like the first falls of burnt snow; the air full of dust and the clouds that pressed. This was the only rain there was. The only rain there could be.
I drove through pink smoke; pomegranate dust whipped into the air against the blanked-out canvas of the duvet sky. There was colour. It could’ve been one of her drawings, candyfloss plumes filled the page: inside the clouds is where she said the magic happened. Was this magic?
When I close my eyes the picture blurs and I can no longer see her face, her eyes, her perfect bow-shaped lip, that prominent M-shaped bow, and the delicately upturned nose – the family nose, my nose. I stroked my nose then, and now: pretend it’s hers.
Everything was bathed in dust like I’d blown my blusher compact and all of the tiny fragments of cerise shimmer had landed on crisp white fittings and furnishings, hot splatters against plastics like spray paint. Was it powder or grit? I did not feel a sense of dramatic foreboding; there was no warning, remember.
I did not think of flamingos French-rose fuchsia lavender watermelon salmon peonies peaches poppies strawberries raspberry-honeysuckle geraniums cherries coral carnations cherry-blossom conch shell quartz amethyst sun-kissed-dusky wood boysenberry-blood. What about her blushing ballet slippers?
I opened the door to the lounge; the curtains weren’t quite meeting. A milky way of dust. I had forgotten the bees, the flowers, the grass, the rain. It did not feel like home or childhood.
Then she was there
waving in violet winds
aubergine heather mulberry orchid
saluting the sun
small buds turning
blushing bells ringing
ready to jig
upwards on heels
apple green neon whiff
They are the World.