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I wrote this piece on the last day of my holiday in Italy. We stayed in such a beautiful place, words are actually difficult to find that do it justice. After reading a few crime books on holiday I was inspired to attempt a piece that put ugliness amongst such beauty. It is an indulgence in all that I saw there and my attempt at capturing its wonder.

Lemons

Lemon grove

A storm unearthed her. Tridents that slashed from sky to sea, a tremble of anger in its wake. Rain pounded parched earth that gulped in hungry gluts. Mountains shook, crevices and jags flooded, shedding rivulets of tears down their ancient slopes. Stars blinked with each roar, the eyes of the night that had already seen. Inside people watched, their rooftops pummeled by Godly fists that roused babies from their sleep.

The morning after was calm and cloudless, a blue that belonged to the most polished sapphire. Roosters crowed way past dawn, while nearby geese babbled in their cages. In his lemon grove Luigi worked, his soft limp aided by a tall cane carved from the trunk of an olive tree. On the earth he lay a basket and with sharp taps dislodged lemons plump with sun. Huge and gnarled they fell with a thump and lolled from side to side like a fat child unable to crawl. With one sharp tap a young lemon fell and tumbled acrobat-like down the mountain slope. With a curse Luigi limped after it, his cane clunking into the earth with each step.

In cloudy sight he saw its limoncello flesh nestled in a pile of leaves. “Aha” he said and bent to pluck it from the ground. A breeze came and parted her leafy shroud in two. Their parting revealed the dress she always wore, of coarse linen with stitches that twisted and curled just like the waves on the glittering sea below. Her skin once alight as an opal had turned, the weeks shading it to a blackened pearl. Luigi toppled to the ground and amidst the leaves he yelled “Help!” while his body racked with sobs.

The men of the village carried her on a bed of sticks from the lemon grove to the church. Beneath dappled shadows they laid her and moved back, each head bowed. The women blessed themselves and bent to work. With cloth coated fingers they dipped sorrowful tips into holy water and stroked her, their own lives now so blessed. Her mother came in the grip of her brother. She sobbed for it not to be true. His heart turned as hard as the mountains that surrounded them. Above them the sun slipped, a haze shifting its heat while clouds gathered in bulbous mounds that filled with birds. The church bells rang and with each peal the village sang, as she used to in notes stolen from a bird too elusive to ever name.

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