Birth

by John Berger

from Lilac and Flag in the Into Their Labours trilogy

Read by Emma Rye

Three butterflies rise from the field like white ash above a fire. Let my dead help me now. One of them reappears and, flying over the tall grass which I will soon have to scythe, alights on a blue flower and opens its wings. On each of her wings the same sign is printed in blackish grey – the grey of the first marks if you draw with a burnt stick on paper. I begin to think of Zsuzsa – or perhaps it is she who begins to think of me. A second butterfly comes down and covers the first; the second on is Sucus. The two of them, wings spread, quiver like four pages of a book open in the wind. Suddenly Sucus flies off. Let my dead help me now. Zsuzsa shuts her wings, slips off the scabious flower, and joins the other two butterflies to fly away over the tall grass which I will soon have to scythe. I have loved them all.