In Shamini Sriskandarajah’s short and beautiful poem, ‘Cypress’, two people sit under the quiet warmth of a leylandii tree reflecting on past moments of togetherness.
We sit under the leylandii and
branches shield us from the sun.
The heat beats down and all I can smell
is the sweet, woody scent of the cypress.
It is the same tree your mother cut
the day before the darkest day.
Darkness bled into the sunshine as
we walked through the late spring.
Long fronds of cypress gently collared
the posy your parents laid down.
Now we shelter under the leylandii
and through the branches, light seeps in.
About Shamini Sriskandarajah
Shamini Sriskandarajah is a therapist, bereavement counsellor, florist, writer, and editor. She writes poetry and fiction about the intricacies of loss, friendship, and family. Shamini also writes non-fiction about floristry and gardening, culture and society, and mental health and inequality. Follow Shamini on Twitter @FlowerShamini
About Sara Rivers
Sara Rivers is an artist who works in different media. She completed her foundation diploma at Brighton School of Art and her BA in Fine Art at Canterbury School of Art. She has also studied Art Therapy at St Albans School of Art, Hertfordshire. Sara founded the Creativity Centre, a space for outsider artists and those recovering from mental ill health, at Isledon Road (formerly Corsica Street), London. She is a founder member of the Otherside Gallery, and has created three short films, all of which were funded by the NHS. Sara is passionate about improving the services available to people experiencing mental ill health, and has led many campaigns against the continued cuts to day services in the borough of Islington. Sara is the current artist for Lucy Writers, and has designed all the artwork for the website to date. To view more of Sara’s work follow her new Instagram account @pixbysararivers and see her profile on Outside In.
‘Cypress’ was written for the series Flora & Fauna of Foreign Places, which was conceived and edited by Usha Akella for Lucy Writers.
Flora and fauna define our cultural sensibility; what trees and flowers we grew up with signifies ‘home.’ Transplant an individual to a foreign environment with strange trees and flowers, he or she is likely to feel ‘foreign’. Flowers are culturally specific in symbolism expressed in social events like weddings and funerals.
As a recent graduate of a Creative Writing MSt living in America, Usha noticed that in addition to the gift of knowledge and friendships, her journeys to the UK sparked an interest in flora. For the first time, she noticed a passion to want to know the names of flowers and trees. Somewhere along the way between the limes of Trinity College and the walnut maple of Madingley Hall; between the splendid gardens of Rydal Mount and rolling vales of Cumbria, she had been infected with a green-eye. When she walks in her Austin neighbourhood, she is now incited to know the names of the wildflowers and trees that she took for granted visually. And she notices, how this new world seeps into her writing gradually.
Right now, the bloom of summer is upon most countries. So, it seems perfect to celebrate flowers, plants and trees as a theme for the poetry issue. In the next few weeks, Usha will be publishing poems by writers from around the world that explore, reflect on and appreciate the flora and fauna of foreign places, and what they mean to them.