You have been out since early morning. You ate your breakfast on the patio watching a breeze lift the branches of the willow. At lunch, you ate your sandwich on the doorstep.
Just lately, the garden is your preferred room in the house. You like to get up early, before your thoughts begin. You wear a hat and gloves. You bring a towel to kneel on. It’s like a form of prayer.
A garden is easier in the morning. It doesn’t have the same associations as the rest of your house. There are no old photos, no favorite chairs, no sides to the beds, no mugs or dishes that can bring an ache. Instead, it is all dying and being born – all rise and fall, all bloom and wilt. You can deal with that. You can nurse something and watch it fade in such a place.
Like the roses you spray and cut. You see their petals fall off day by day. It is part of what they are, part of their beauty.
Now is the hour you wait for after each day’s work. You are kneeling by a raw bed of unplanted earth, your hair tied up, a smutch of dirt across your face. You are poised like someone preparing to dive. The last glimmers of the sun touch the box hedge.
The coming of dusk tingles down the row of gardens. You repress a shiver in the growing chill. All the gardens have been so alive this afternoon. You have worked in an envelope of echoes – the high tolling of children’s voices, the drone of lawn mowers, the clink of glasses and cutlery at lunchtime. You listened to the sigh of the morning passing with the warmth of the sun on your face. The whole day has been like a long exhalation.
But this is the tipping point. The dark is folding the gardens into houses, the rooms into shadows, the faces into veils.
Your intruder lights come on for as long as you need to kneel, will light your progress as you garden through the night.
David Mohan is based in Dublin, and received a PhD in English Literature from Trinity College. He writes poetry and short stories. He came second in the Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Award and won the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writer Award. He has had stories published in Necessary Fiction, Opium, Contrary, elimae, Flash International magazine, The Chattahoochee Review and killauthor. He has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize.
Read our interview with David here.