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Lewis 55

The Wash-house

1They knotted the roots and petals of wildflowers together, waved their hands in some fashion or other, and this droop of a girl sat up from the green.

A bride for the groom. She doesn’t say much, words stumbling out like young shoots. ‘Don’t remember,’ she says, so I show her where she used to be broom, hitching herself from the dry soil under the cliff, bees clamouring at each cup.

I show her where she was meadowsweet, where she thickened the low field by the stream: always thirsty, always twisting towards the white spurting water, and insisting her roots in tough currents downwards, wrangling the earth.

I show her where she was oak flower, pouting in gangs between the spring twigs, urging the green thud of water up through the trunk and into the fizz of those thousand pink mouths.

‘Next?’ she says, wheeling hair round her finger, but we are due back at the hall. We stand for a few moments longer, watch the fritter of blossom over the stream.

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