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Wild Places: Kathleen Mansfield and Flowers

When I open my eyes Mansfield is sitting on the end of my bed looking at me in that dark, accusing way she has. Everyone has their own haunting, and she is mine. Tonight, I’m sleeping in a budget hotel in Wellington listening to a category two cyclone throwing an ocean’s worth of rain at the window like gravel. I should be working on a new story, but I haven’t written anything worth keeping for weeks. Mansfield disapproves of my inertia. ‘Shouldn’t you be doing something?’ she says. ‘Don’t you think this is a complete waste of your life?’ She’s holding out a bunch of primroses arranged in a blue bowl. A still life; une nature morte . They smell of the forest, damp moss, undergrowth – The Wild.  ‘You know they’ll die, of course,’ she says, arching one perfect eyebrow. ‘They always do.’ And then she vanishes in a waft of yellow broom and white manuka. Sometimes she brings chrysanthemum blooms floating in a black Japanese dish. Yellow chrysanthemums remind her of sunflowers, a pai

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