Emma Cooper
Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland

“A Garden of Eden”

“Your mint looks as withered as the skin a snake sheds.”
I smile and continue tending my turmeric. Ameera is trying to rile me; my mint is the best in the district.
I look up from my devotions to survey the rooftop scene. My garden is a haven amidst so much concrete. A young couple promised to each other snatch a quick word among the vines. I pretend not to see them although I know my Imam would complain that I have created a new Garden of Eden. Ahmed receives excellent internet reception here so he sits and reaches out to the world from beside the coriander. Ameera and her friends come after their household labours to gossip and escape the busy streets. My daughter makes mint tea and generally maintains order.

That was two months ago but it could be two lifetimes. Today I brush the dust off my mint. My tears cut rivulets through the grey coated leaves for Ahmed whose shattered body was pulled from his crushed home. I weep for the women and their children who sit shaking with fear in basements.
My daughter begged me to leave with her but I said I was too old to be afraid. My home and garden lay at the edge of the destruction but now feel as if they are being pulled into the middle of the hell around me. I am not fearless; I just won’t leave my garden. Normality is my defiance.

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