Saturday, 2 October 2010
While the doorframe had succeeded in holding back the brambles, its step had lost the siege. Leaves swelled in the sun, granite face-up in thorns. Darkness swallowed light inside, over the threshold and the open door; paint outstretched from oak, motionless in its suicide. A mouse sat next to a trap baited with honey bread, its chest crushed, an eye staring at blood on the earth floor.
Shadow dulled a Ricard bottle on Marie-Pierre’s thin table, all outside light vertically down, errant rays trapped in dirty nets. Back from the window, in gloom, was a stove driven by gas bottles. Opposite, a shelf covered in flower-printed plastic supported a rusted coffee tin. Cobwebs and plaster shrouded a bulb hanging by a cloth flex.
Ants worked on the soil and up the walls, taking advantage of crumbled lime between the stone. Corrugated iron rusted and threatened to collapse into the house’s main room, struggling under the sun’s weight. Flies and ants provided the only sound; birds hid.
The lane had burst. Its banks were convex, flecked with blackberry flowers and green fruit heads. A throat-high field was jailed behind the house, imprisoned with grass and damsons. Hydrangea pom-poms signalled a failed garden border, blue and pink petals near-invisible against fried sky. Ash and oak tops along the path were crowned with white and, higher, leeched cobalt. The moon lay on its back and looked away, one eye closed.
Around the track stood a gate whose tubular frame refused to close, its surround eaten by rust and greenery. Gravel provided a weed-hold beyond, leading forward through hay fodder to a fruit garden. Marie-Pierre lay in the grass at the corner of her strawberry bed.
She was wearing a brown skirt, which had hitched up over her knee, and her black shoes had created dimples in the blades. A fly sat on her eyeball, licking it, and ants played in her hat. The myrtille bushes behind the strawberry plants bounced under the weight of two jackdaws. Marie-Pierre’s chair stood under a cherry tree. Its legs were bleaching.
Hard pears peaked through leaves and apple stems had begun to brown. Marie-Pierre’s raspberry bushes were still clean, and would manage no crop this year thanks to the birds. Thickets, now free, pushed forward and tested toes in slug traps. Purple flecks betrayed positions of fox glove holes.
Down the hill and perpendicular to the lane, a line of laurels masked pasture from the garden. Oaks stood behind them, annoying the field. EDF had carved a hole in the foliage for power lines, which cut shadows over the fruit.
A tractor started. It came closer.