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The Pollinators

Author: meg macleod
Year: Future

'The day was born as silk…' A grandmother writes the first lines of a poem and stops, allowing herself to think of silk blowing on the breeze, how it might lift and fold itself over the landscape. It is a beautiful morning. There have been many such mornings of late as if to compensate humanity for the imposed isolation.

The wretched Covid-19 virus is spreading itself. An invisible mist of microbes, much like the invisible silk of her imagination, falling and moulding itself into every corner. But not content with that it is invading mouths and eyes and lungs. It exists beyond her poetry. Unlike the silk of her morning she has no control over Covid-19. It is in charge, a plague with evil consequences.

She tries to think beyond it. To a place of safety and comfort. Such fundamental changes in so few days have given her the fear that such a thing might not be possible.

Her granddaughter is standing at the edge of an uncertain future. Will it be a future without touch? She shivers at the idea. She inwardly revolts at the thought of wearing a mask. The last vestige of freedom. The denial of a smile. Disturbing thoughts of police states and confinement trespass her imagination.

The nightmare truly begins the day she stands outside her daughter's garden. The little child is only three years old. She stands in the middle of the lawn with her hands held up. 'Don't come near, Nana.'

Her small hands are spread wide as one finds in people who are trusting, their hearts displayed to the world. The grandmother can see that the child wants to run to her.

Her granddaughter has learnt 'distancing.' The grandmother's heart misses a beat. A knife blade inserts itself between her ribs.

With the greatest of effort she manages a smile.' O.K., but soon we will hug each other!’ The grandmother walks away, waving. The little one stands still, her face crumpled with sadness.

Weeks pass with a slow freezing of emotion in the warm sunshine. They are all being obedient. Solitary. Isolated.

The garden is flourishing with a multitude of tulips. The blackbird is beginning to sing. This is the year she hoped to share that with the little one. She has already taught her, through the previous springtime, the names of herbs. Fondly she recalls the tiny hands plucking mint leaves and smelling them.

She makes a decision while the blackbird sings to his sweetheart.

'I don't care...just come.' She puts her phone back in her pocket.

Most of her conversations take place in the garden. She was never one to break rules. 'But survival is more than just being alive.' She speaks emphatically out loud to the bright red tulips where the pollinators are doing what comes naturally. 'If the wretched thing is going to get me at least I will die remembering her heart against mine.' The tulips don't answer back but their nodding heads give justification. 'And besides, the future hangs in the balance.'

She remembers her own childhood, the 'baggage' she carried with her from that distant country and the fears, irrational, she discovered later when it was almost too late.

She is empowered with a sense of duty to heal the wounds being imposed, to stop the flow of blood escaping, to stop the future becoming solidified, to stop fear of touch polluting the mind of a child. She continues her conversation with the garden.

'This situation has the possibility to become a frozen wasteland.' She closes her eyes, waiting.

The gate opens…the child rushes forwards, arms open wide. As their hearts beat against each other they watch a bee diving into tulips. It is a moment captured safely for the future as the knife falls away from the where it had become lodged against the grandmother’s heart.