At last the rain has ceased. Open the back door and go down the steps, breathe in the herbiness of oregano, wander among the flocks of marguerites, pat the old pear tree, watch the butterflies: their flitterings, momentary couplings, alightings, the brief unfoldings of wings stamped with crimson dusk. Go, go to the boughs weighted with Worcesters, their cheeks red as those of the wicked queen’s apple. Forgive the buddleia for toppling over the courgettes— you love its purple desire to grow. The warmth loosening the ache trapped in your bones urges that ageing and in the end withering are…

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