Between my childhood and youth – a time of innocent spring, there stood a great big syringa berry tree. Like a proud old man upon the green carpet of our uneven backyard.
Under his canopy of buzz and twitter and fresh green leaves, surrounded by scents of earth and perfumed fruit, sat two girls – similar yet different.
One was my dear sister of wedded womanhood and safe in her belly she held a hopeful life of growing possibilities. The other was my immature self – a sibling’s shadow but gaining substance as a would-be aunt.
A pair of pink little woollen socks I held. So soft and delicate, oh how joyous it was to spin a dream of butterfly feet.
With a frowning scowl, my mother stood, like an unhappy tigress by the water-stained kitchen window, around swirls of cake flour dust, appearing quite sinister.
We knew! Yes, we knew why drawn-down lines formed upon her tired brow. We knew why her old heart fluttered like a caged bird. We knew the bitter taste of silent dread – the aged rumoured superstition that they said.
It was cold and shrewd, spoken for decades, sparing no woman, telling of a witch deprived of a child. Cunning and ugly, snatching away possibilities. Fear she feasted and babies were a treat, living forever upon the syringa berry tree.
With an unseen child defiantly we sat, giddy with laughter – women of modern truth.
The balloon of happiness grew until autumn, bearing news of celebrated rejoicement, like strawberry twirls. A life was born, a little girl. Once a shadow, now I was an aunt.
But – oh this happiness! How short-lived it is. To a point where a little life lay hushed and blue in her small hospital crib.
What is this superstition, compelling me to tie the little woollen socks on the syringa berry tree, begging the witch to let the little life be?
What is this hope, to bring a little life home in a cold wooden box of silence?
Questions! So many questions!
But the White Coats say, “Maybe it was fate.”
I was an aunt for one whole day, now I am a shadow again.
Hear the wind, the witch chortles. See the dry, falling syringa berry tree leaves! Scars they be on my crying, bleeding heart.