Getting out

by Ann Gray

Afternoons. We walk in the gardens. She’s heavy
on my arm. The Systemic Beds match her jacket,
the last of summer, mauve and purple. She poses
there, threadbare, her back collapsed, neck craning
forward. Sitting by the water, she tells complicated
stories that didn’t happen, or might have done once,
in another year or place, with other people. She talks
to ducks. She knows their thoughts and conversations.
She doesn’t believe I know where we are. Two avenues
away, the Persian Ironwood. Every part of me, entirely,
knows it’s there. Too far for her, and the march of trees
has hidden it, peeled bark of pearl, grey twisted limbs
each tangled in the other. Maybe, now, its leaves are
touched with scarlet. There was snow there, the first time,
the winter garden glorious, gloves and a hat, glasshouses
full to bursting, hot. Slow, we make it to the bottom gate,
our progress muddled, random. There, the board talks
of weather, what’s at its best. We’re not. But she’s closed
her eyes, sitting by the fountain, sun on her face, the wind
fingering her hair. The late daisy yellows and the blue of it.