Cometh the lichen

One morning I heard the skin behind my ears crackle. I rubbed it and greenish grey flakes came away in my hand.

I knew what it was. I remember seeing these tiny fronds around my grandmother’s temples, smoothed into her hair. She got used to it. We got used to it. In fact, it seemed to give her an authority, an authenticity.

It skips a generation they said so I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

Like my grandmother, I’ll have to learn how to wear it. But at least it’s the grey lichen that’s in our family. I can live with these silver frills. There is a woman in Isbister who has grown the orange lichen. It’s all down her West side and looks like an anger. Sadly it goes so deep she can’t brush it away.

© Shona Main 2011

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