Coral Wylie: Keep Off the Grass | Green Week 2022

Our upcoming Studio show, The Kola Nut Does Not Speak English, explores connecting with heritage and ancestry through the language of plants. The central character, Tasha, attempts to find connection with a legacy of green-fingered women through her house plants – which she struggles to keep alive.

To kick off #BushGreenWeek22, we asked actor, writer, wildlife educator & Young Company member, Coral Wylie, to write a short piece that engages with these themes.

Keep Off The Grass – Coral Wylie

The child watches their father
fuss and fault and gripe.
His breath inhaled into a sharp, unreleasing pinch.
He tells them, the world has fractured.
Our presentation of good citizenship, moral superiority,
has been pierced, wounded for all to see.
The breach?

A dandelion.
In the centre of the lawn.

A mark so heinous it must be burned, poisoned, and dug up.
The child learns that for their father,
a healthy lawn is a healthy man.
One who can control, constrain, and curb the unruly earth beneath him,
an expression of true suburban success.

He has come from afar,
and a thousand thousand identical blades of cropped grass is the first signpost to hateful eyes
that he too, can homogenise.

The child watched their father
clamped in the vise of conformity.
Back hunched, head aching, inhale unreleasing.
Trying to keep track of every potential weed,
as if it would ease their glares and mutters.

The child watched.
And watched.
And the child grew up.
And you know what?

I truly hated that fucking lawn.

An overwash of uniformity
is suffocating.
It is not the language the earth wants to speak.
A dandelion in the centre of the lawn is the first breath of a voice smothered to near asphyxiation,
and in those gossamer domes I could hear my own gasps for air.

I could stand it no longer.
I poured fistfuls of clover seeds in between the grasses,
asking gently if they would part for more muscles of this body to take root.

Eventually, sweet trios of leaves came up soft beneath our feet.
They nurtured the soil below into rich, loamy pillows.
Bedding of earth so inviting,
that soon cornflowers, poppies, violets, came to rest their weary heads.
A thousand thousand blades of cropped grass, unmoving and unwilling,
now home to a hundred flowing voices and muscles, loose and free and loud.

And for the first time, where that lawn used to be,
The child and their father exhaled.

The Kola Nut Does Not Speak English opens 28 November. Click here to find out more about the show