‘She loves most the wet colours of his neck when he bathes. And his chest with its sweat which her fingers grip when he is over her, and the dark, tough arms in the darkness of his tent, or one time in her room when light from the valley’s city, finally free of curfew, rose among them like twilight and lit the colour of his body.’

– Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

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‘Nurses too became shell-shocked from the dying around them. Or from something as small as a letter. They would carry a severed arm down a hall, or swab at blood that never stopped, as if the wound were a well, and they began to believe in nothing, trusted nothing. They broke the way a man dismantling a mine broke the second his geography exploded. The way Hana broke in Santa Chiara Hospital when an official walked down the space between a hundred beds and gave her a letter that told her of the death of her father.’

– Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

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‘You enjoy a cigar and a clear view of Jersey.
The tide is going out across the shingle,
and nothing on earth can stop it.
The smooth stones you pick up and examine
under the moon’s light have been made blue
from the sea. Next morning when you pull them
from your trouser pocket, they are still blue.’

– Raymond Carver, extract from The Blue Stones

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