That race, the heat of the mountain road. The crash of my bike as it fell. A hazy cottage. Three walls and a hanging door. The shade of a Cyprus tree where the roof once was, where my eyes struggled to adjust, where half blind I saw a table, felt a chair supporting me, my hands gripping its arms. Before closing my eyes I glimpsed a woman ladling out a measure.
What could I have seen at all? Knowing only that she tipped the measure into a mug of milk, her voice urging – drink, sip slowly, feel the texture. Sip, and feel, sip and feel, sip and feel. My voice echoing hers, her words gliding over my tongue; a voice soothing a ragged throat, flowing down to a beating heart, holding it like a hand cupping the head of a new-born.
And all the while, the woman is building a fire. I hear the placing of sticks in a grate, the striking of a match, a brief phosphorescent smell, the crackle of pinecones catching light.
And later, remembering the coolness of the ruin, the smoothness of milk, and remounting my bike, how the sun dipped below the peaks, to the bleating of a goat, and the sweet buzz of honeybees on mountain thyme.