Those gardens, when I first saw them, shone in city-swept golden hour. Blonde trunks, bedecked in green, backdropped beaming couples, squinting under the sun. The quiet immaculacy of those gardens padded out a hazy thought-image of Esther Greenwood, nestled beneath the asylum’s winter trees. Those gardens were preened and primed, perfect. More than once, in those gardens, as my mind sagged and strayed, I offered my heart to the sun. I warmed my face and dried my eyes. I forced my feet round a pond of mummy ducks and baby sailboats, a clockface wandered anti-wise. I was lethargic, flat. A brittle hyacinth in August drought. My purply petals had shrivelled from violet foncé into café au lait. My bed had become a comfort-grave, my body decaying beneath baby-pink cotton clouds. But those gardens, with their peeling birch trees, their yawning flowerheads, placed unmoving earth beneath me. They stood by, collecting my petals as they dropped to the dirt. They shot out sand-shrapnel, barbed winds, fat rain-bullets to rouse my limp leaf-limbs from their numb slumber. Although new sprigs sprouted and flâneurs flounced and the fountain spouted and spluttered afresh, my sanctuary stood still, standing by. Those gardens, my sanctuary, were a grounding breath, a hand outstretched from home.
By Louder Than The Storm contributor Elly Walters.