Red ochre squelching underfoot, holding
onto her soles then relenting: letting go.
She walks into the deep green not knowing
which way but not wanting to turn back.
The canvas of green & red blurring her edges,
making her reckless. Except. The cobalt sky.
The wind whipping hard. Her shoes ravaged
by mud. She finds herself in a gorge: ripe,
overflowing, the water tumbling from wet
hand to wet hand, creating a dozen fresh
water paths. Her foot sticks. Another step
& her foot sinks half a metre into the soil.
A rustling in the leaves from the trees on
her right & the fear (never far away) returns:
of being found. By whom? She doesn’t know
but the cold knife slicing through her
abdomen is real. Terror cuts to her lungs,
the red ochre in her veins runs to her heart
& flees again, disperses into valves, capillaries,
& she breathes in red & green as her feet
pummel the soil, travel the water-paths carved
in the earth’s skin. This was what she had
wanted (to be alone) but not this: the crack
& recoil of thunder as gunshot, her heart
punishing her chest. She wishes she had done
something useful with her youth like learn
a martial art. Her youth now almost gone.
Thirty-four – not young, not old. Somewhere
in between. Liminal & vulnerable. She turns
back to the trees. Here is a path she recognises;
this ditch, this hassock. It is not the path
she’d planned on taking but she takes it now
(familiarity something to gravitate toward,
something to embrace). Appearing at the
front door, mud up to her shins, cheeks
flushed, smiling. I took the long way back.
I research the origins of the modern rose and discover
1. she is a crossbreed
2. of Rosa chinensis, Rosa gigantea and other species
3. including Rosa gallica and Rosa canina
4. of which, only the latter, is native to the British Isles
5. the rest were shipped from China, India, France
6. et cetera, et cetera…
7. Flower with a thousand faces, six thousand five hundred
8. tongues, and almost as many names;
9. ancestors estimated at thirty-five million years old.
10. To where does she return?
11. Unable to pinpoint a single motherland or ‘home’
12. (except – perhaps – the globe?)
13. she becomes what she is:
14. 玫瑰, गुलाब, rose.
玫瑰 – rose (Chinese)
गुलाब – rose (Hindi)
rose – rose (French)
Sarala Estruch is a writer, poet, critic, and editor of Eurasian heritage. She currently lives a stone’s throw from Epping Forest in London. She is a winner of the Poetry School/Nine Arches Press Primers Competition, and her poetry short ‘The English Dream’ appeared in Primers: Volume Three (Nine Arches Press). She is also a Ledbury Critic.