By Norah Blakedon

The rose flourishes. Strong veins chevron velvet leaves. Blush petals swell, each tight curve concealing a pale centrepiece. Creamy roots strengthen, as juicy as neighbouring worms, while growing shoots aim for the sky. And I’m reminded of how your vanishing body withered. 

I tend to the rose with a daughter’s diligence, watering and letting it feast on bonemeal. Tentative fingers prune stray offshoots and crisped leaves; the same fingers that spooned soup into a puckered mouth and held ice cubes to cracked lips.  

Sometimes, I tell the sprouting bush about my day, as if it substitutes you. It doesn’t reply, of course, but often, you didn’t; a nodding smile enough.  

Now, as the sun kisses the horizon, I brush the soil and reveal I’ve been writing, and wonder if you’d be proud.  

Would you be?  

My fingers sink into crumbly wetness, searching for what’s left of you. 

Norah Blakedon lives in northwest England. When her head isn’t buried in a book, she can be found writing, or amongst nature with her dog in tow.