Текстове на Мария Каро, Бети Файон и Мария Добревска.

The Yellow Rose

We had to fix the lantern...

We had to fix the lantern on the grave. Its small door needed a wire loop to keep it closed after we lit the two candles. We said it every time we tended the grave. We dug the weeds. My brother was carrying a small adze and made little holes with it, while I planted pansies, daisies and other small flowers from plastic pots, without any order or sense of harmony. It seemed as if none of my plantations was blessed with long survival and after some time, only the hollyhocks remained. I never planted them, they have probably self-seeded with the wind. The same went for the spray carnations, I never planted these as well, except for some white ones, I think, not very impressive for their blossoms, which spread in tufts and didn’t mind the dry weather; they were the only flowers persisting until late autumn. I was probably unable to perceive the grave as a place for planting vegetation, I said to myself. Although he loved plants so much. Flowers? – Yes, flowers too, though he seemed to enjoy fruit trees and vines a great deal better, and of flowers, he loved roses most.

I remembered the snowdrops. When they flowered he used to take us to the vineyard and show them to us. He was proud. I always thought that they had spread by themselves under the cypress tree and along the stars. Had I found the easiest excuse for my ignorance: how they were planted, when, were they bulbs – these were all questions I couldn’t bother to answer, my father knew it all, snowdrops meant spring and dad and spring were on good terms. He could scent spring. When it was near, he would get into the car and drive to Euxinograd.

What story was I going to tell? It was not about the vineyard on the top of the hill. Although, when I see the thick green of summer, the lavish and impenetrable green of orchard trees and vines, I invariably think of my father’s body amongst them, he in his bathing shorts and a torn straw hat, a little like the one he put on top of the scarecrow in late summer, or probably the same one; his body hued in the pale green solution which he used to treat the vines, wriggling between the leaves, holding the sprayer pipe in one hand with a copper tank of solution strapped across his back. Was it Berlioz mixture? No, but its name was just as sonorous, I can remember that there was a recipe with the solution ingredients, a worn out yellow piece of paper, dirty with timeless readings and folding …

I wanted to tell you about the rose on my father’s grave. We saw it one day, it was an unexpected encounter. Neither I, nor my mother, nor my brother have ever planted a rose bush on my father’s grave. That was certain beyond any doubt. My mother disliked the kind of work, such as gardening. Sometimes, when the earth would warm, my grandmother came to the summer house, she walked barefoot on the path and planted spray carnations. It was dad who planted the roses. They were all in different colours, but most of all, I loved the apricot one. And also the brick-red one. And there was one with such dazzlingly sweet perfume that I couldn’t go near it more than once a day and then my nose was filled with the scent for the whole day… The deep velvety red one…

I saluted the yellow rose in the same manner as everything beautiful from the vineyard, which my father grew: I took it for granted. A yellow rose in flower. Deeply saturated yellow, big and beautiful rose… But… how? When? When have we last visited daddy’s grave? And it could not have been blown by the wind – it was too beautiful and mindful of its own presence imposing itself among all other trifle remnants of flowers… It was in the lower left corner of the grave and at least half a meter tall …

I can remember that I felt especially jealous about it.

In late autumn we didn’t cut the sharp hips replacing the faded blossoms, they looked like small pears. The rose grew wild or at least that’s what we thought. One day, we came to the grave somehow better equipped than earlier: with secateurs my brother cut back the tangled canes of the rose without any awareness of his actions. I had bought some powdery substance from the store at the market – I had to mix it with water and spray the leaves, which had shrivelled. At the store, I clumsily explained what the leaves looked like. I couldn’t even remember the disease when they named it. We treated the shrub and clipped the little pears.

It so happened that several summers later, in a very hot, but beautiful day of July, my mother passed away. I memorised the particular beauty of that day because of her, as her sickness was painful and I thought that the light wind blowing from the sea, the azure of the sky and even the blithe spirit of this July day somehow allowed my mother to relax and have her soul released into the ether of something, which has no name. They covered the grave with soil and piled it into a mound, the gravediggers gathered the flowers in rough bundles, shortened the stems and tucked them in the ground.

And I noticed that somehow by chance, at one end of my father’s grave, which was now the grave of them both, the yellow rose had remained. It was small and had only one or two short canes, but the gravediggers had spared it and it was not uprooted …

About the New Year holidays, we visited the grave again. I lit two candles and I half closed the lantern. „We forgot to take some wire again”. We did not really blame ourselves. In addition to visiting our parents, we were visiting something secret, which attracted us.

 1 Phonetically, a guess very close to the Bulgarian for Bordeaux mixture. Translator’s note.


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