In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane

Tativille

David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Digital RecordingsMichael Hofmann
Close
Close
Vol. 7 No. 11 · 20 June 1985
Poem

Digital Recordings

Michael Hofmann

183 words

Everything feels soft to my hands useless with cold
in this high-style country cottage, a retreat
for painters and musicians in summer. I put them up

and feel my father’s head, his thinning, pliant hair
and scalloped temples – there to threaten or impress women,
I once read, with the frontal bone of intellect ...

The central heating clicks on, and the warm air
shoots straight up into the triangular apex of the studio,
against twenty feet of northlight, now darkness and fog.

I’ve no reason to believe there’s anything below me –
the presumed foundations, whichever of God’s creatures
left their prints in the snow and didn’t turn aside,

the taped felt undercarpet worn down by unknowns
and by the organist of Chelmsford Cathedral –
but I bring into it Trevor from downstairs,

security guard at HMV and abject night-time guitarist,
tapping his foot into a pile of blankets,
black-and-blue notes whimpering through the floor ...

My fingers whiten as they bunch themselves
to grip my father’s pen. Silver and surgically thin,
taken in error, its ink is thicker than blood.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences