When the wind blows fiercely, I crouch down low. The single cow in a field is a bad omen for everyone. A red-beaked bird is called a chough. Red-beaked birds are called oystercatchers. The toadstool has no name and is in the wrong season. There are seals on the beach and in the water.
You must walk where the earth is worn away. The blossom is pink and is in the wrong season. White birds with black-tipped wings are called gannets. He walks at the edge and you beg him. White birds with black-tipped wings never touch the earth. Some people don’t care what they are called. When a new calf watches you, your heart beats faster. When the wind blows hard you lie on the ground. When he walks at the edge you scream into the wind. A voice sounds like nobody’s voice. The telephone call is nobody you know.
For some people names are non-negotiable. The bird in the hedge doesn’t have to fly. When he needs to piss he stands by the hedge. When you need to piss you crouch by the tree. Yellow fungus is not edible. Bracket fungus has no season. Jelly fungus grows on elder. When there are gales I feel afraid. Where the cliff drops down you are afraid. When there are cows in a field. When there is water between you. When there is no bridge. When the calf watches you. The tree that creaks. When the same thing can mean something else.
The old leaves have not rotted. There is a missed call from nobody you know. When you think of the man who died in his car under a falling tree. When she said: how awful and you felt alive. When you think of the plane stalling in mid-air. When she said nothing. When I don’t go out. When I think of torture or the lump in the back of his leg. Mammals without legs are called seals and sometimes whales. Mermaids are women with their legs tied together.
Sometimes there is the smell of him. The other smell is the smell of fox. The other smell is the smell of the leaves that have not rotted. Plastic doesn’t have a smell unless it’s burning. For some people, plastic is invisible. For some people, names are important. You must walk on the earth that is worn away. It is rare to feel safe. It is rare to know what you’re feeling. It is rare that someone might be watching. It is impossible that nobody is watching.
Dead leaves should not be swept away. Living plants should not be burned away. Dead sheep must wait to be taken away. Dead whales can explode. The slow worm is not really a worm. It is not the thing you think.
Some animals have two names. Some people do not believe in them. You are given to picking up reindeer moss. You are given to running your fingers over star moss.
When the moss dies, everybody dies.
Going to work is a waste of time. When you speak to the room, your heart beats faster. Sometimes you leave the tap running. Sometimes you don’t go out. You go out and the sun is shining. When you don’t understand that the earth will end. You think the car will hit the bird and nobody screams but you. The black-and-white bird is a magpie. One magpie is the end of the world. The other bird is a pied jay. Try not to think about giving birth in a hostage situation. Try to look at the new daffodils. The daffodils in the vase are poisonous. Sometimes you tell them that meaning is not. Once you told them that meaning has a penis. Your lipstick is made of crushed up bugs.
The pizza is not poisonous. The rice might be poisonous. Rats can spread disease. The poisoner comes in an unmarked van. The forest in spring is a green cathedral. A woman’s grave is dressed with flowers. The brown pony is heavily pregnant. There is no wild pony left in the world. You must walk where the earth is worn down. Lightning can kill you in an open field. A cow can kill you in an open field. When I leave the tap running, people die. When she says she doesn’t like animals.
In two- to three-hundred years, your clothes will be made of oyster shells. They will not remember why you ever tried. Everyone must love something. Sometimes a bird is waiting in a tree. Sometimes water pours out of you. When she says: there is not a snowball’s chance. The Jehovah’s Witnesses wait in the underpass. There is a pied wagtail crossing the path. Sometimes a blackbird gets a worm. I had thought everything would be so easy. A rhino’s horn is only made of compressed hair.
You like watching the black-backed gull. Once you saw a trail of footprints leading nowhere. Once there was a goat’s head in a red bucket. There were leaves as big as elephant ears. Sometimes you tell them to read what isn’t there. You remember the blackbird from before. You remember the summer as a child. There will be no more elephants. You were once comfortable wearing shorts. Season is an unrealistic word. Time is an improbable word. March is a seasonable word. April can be a name. Try not to think about your burning home. Flowers are not something to be afraid of. When the pollution is high, it is fine to stay indoors.
Bio: Camilla Bostock is a writer and researcher based at the University of Plymouth, where she teaches modern and contemporary literature. Her current work focuses on the strange life of plants in modernist writing and beyond.