Sunday, 27 June 2021

'Rosemary for Remembrance' by Maggie Seren

The sun is a fading flower hanging low over the bay, casting its apricot petals over the waves. I trace the well-worn track that skirts the cliff.

Picking my way through the staring, scattered flock, I tread the same worn path that pilgrims for centuries have trod. I linger at the tiny church, with its whitewashed walls and low slate roof, its bell gable recalling sun-bleached island chapels of the Mediterranean. Here it sits, nestled in the foothill, against the onslaught of the westerly winds, a shelter for troubled souls and sheep. 

The track bends and narrows as it rises. It weaves through bracken, high now in late spring, with its aromatic verdant smell and hairy, coiled crosiers which reach out, hirsute tentacles, to stroke me as I pass.

You join me here and hand in hand we climb the gentle hill. Tenacious heathers spring up here and there, springy cushions on the stony track. Sea pinks hang on in jagged crooks, their soft blooms buffeted in the wind.

As we near the summit, the gusts pick up, stealing your words away. You grip my hand still tighter and lead me to a low flat rock. Your hand rests gently on my shoulder and I inhale you, bergamot and leather, as you lean in. Your cold cheek brushes mine as you point, far into the bay, where, in the golden haze, a pair of dolphins leap and wheel and dive. Joy warms my very centre, flushes on my cheeks, and I’m a child, giggling with glee, as I turn my face to yours.

I turn my face to yours and face the bare, grey weathered rock. My stomach lurches as the sea below me churns. My fingers, blurry through the tears, unfurl and reveal a single sprig of rosemary.

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