Poetry | A Fungal Disease of the Roots by Lucy Johnson

Root rot is a fungal disease that manifests in over-watered plants. It is treated by cutting affected roots and repotting in clean soil.

my fingernails have dirt under them

from repotting my peace lily, gently

teasing its twisted roots,

mixing up a well-draining soil

and giving it some space to grow. I placed it

back on my windowsill between the tradescantia

and the succulents. My mother

taught me about plants, first. How

spider-plants thrive on neglect

and how to take cuttings from them.

Her spider-plant was slightly too neglected –

I cut away the blackened roots

and hoped it would survive the rot.

It took me a while to learn

that mum doesn’t know everything.

I feel like she should.

Sometimes I think

my mother must have grown me like a plant,

made me a comfortable home

to support my roots, and watered

me with love.  If only she understood

root-rot a little better, maybe

I wouldn’t need repotting

quite so much.

Graphic courtesy of Isabel Armitage

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