Stripy Jerseys
There were a lot of ragwort plants
around the library.
Some were bare of leaves and covered
with orange and black stripy jersey caterpillars.
Others were lush and green with leaves
and devoid of caterpillars.
As usual the family planning strategy
of the cinnabar moth
left much to be desired.
I began to transfer them carefully
from the leafless to the lush.
I stood back to admire my achievement,
momentarily disconcerted
when a rather stern looking stranger
asked what I was doing.
I explained.
“Huh”, she said,
“I’ve been doing the same over the other side.
I though it was only me who does this.”
It was a strange way to begin a friendship
but it lasted
all her life.
I think maybe I should go to the grave
in the woodland,
where her body lies
and scatter a few ragwort seeds.
Maybe the moths will come
each year
and make
a living memorial.
She would like that,
I think.
First published in New Reader Magazine, March 2018


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