8 Ro ckery
My neighbour’s telling me what I could grow there but my mind is unrolling the word and here attached to the end of it is ‘stones’, and at once I’m five, playing in the garden with toy animals, setting them up in hollows of damp gravel between limestone peaks. So many ages they’ve stood forgotten – ‘You’ll find plenty of things to plant there,’ he says. Behind the camels and elephants, in a wartime window, a baby sucks at my mother’s breast. Yesterday I was allowed to watch but today the twins are sickly and I’m out here among sharp-edged rockery stones, seeking company. War comes from outside but not their illness. My jealousy caused that. Days later it’s dark. I’m in the armchair trying to cuddle the fierce blue rabbit. The twins have died. Guilty, I clutch its unloved head and stare through no longer blacked-out windows past the humps of the rockery where the malevolent crocodile and tiger crouching neglected await their resurrection decades later when a bewildered neighbour in another garden suggests aubretia but is thanked with tears.