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The Sunken Garden

The garden is twice hidden.  Encircled by rhododendrons and camellias, its paths are coffin deep below the main lawn.  I have left the big house and walk across newly mown grass to find you.  A subtle path meanders through tangled larch and birch whose fractured fingers point urgently, reaching for the unseen light.  I ignore their imploring, and move on into the darkness of damp ferns, moss and decay.  This is our secret place, where we can no longer smell the distant lawn and our tongues taste the moistness of the shadows.

When we first came to this house – then we picnicked on the lawn.

There is no bird song here.  No summer sun falls on the grey sandstone flags under our feet.  We sit on an oak bench in the arbour, in front of a dark pool set into the flagstones.  The bench bends softly under our weight.  Its slats are rough and weathered and bruise your skin as you crumble the wood between finger and thumb.  I try to clasp your hand and gently rub the marks from your skin, but they remain, like some old faded, tattoo.  Once pierced by this place, the imprint remains, a stain on our bodies.

Now, the lawn is empty. No rug is laid upon the lawn, and we no longer fish salmon sandwiches and pork pies from a wicker basket.  Only breadcrumbs remain.

A carp floats on the surface of a pool, horizontal, its mouth open and eyes wide and dull.  I look into the dark browns and greens of the ferns, seeking movement.  This theatre of once good things casually rots, until my thoughts too are twice hidden, once from before and once buried in the rough brown soil.

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