‘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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‘It is a strange reflection that by travelling two days and nights you are in the heart of Italy… And there is a lonely hilltop where no one ever comes, and yet it is seen by me who was lately driving down Piccadilly on an omnibus. And what I should like would be to get out among the fields, sit down and hear the grasshoppers, and take up a handful of earth – Italian earth, as this is Italian dust upon my shoes.’

– Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

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