In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

Close
Close

I woke to your knocking,
convinced someone was patrolling the corridor,
hammering the doors.
The heat was intense, and I wished it would rain.
Your name came to me,
and I thought about all I’d once known about you
but forgot, and once again I saw
those glossy textbook illustrations
full of bright colours, capital letters, Latin names,
those likenesses that used to take my breath away in school.
And then I began to recall more –
the Greeks thought your purpose was to cool
the quick temper of the blood,
and it took the lucid Harvey boatloads of snakes
and apes and other farfetched creatures
to bring your secret to light.
Now I’m standing at the window,
noting the haze, the faintness of the stars,
but thinking of you, little fist
clenching and unclenching as if determined
to keep at it forever,
snug as a treasure carefully packed for shipment
to a distant museum. And I think of Byron
staring into the flames near the water’s edge,
and of what he wrote afterward to Moore, ‘… all
of Shelley was consumed but for the heart.’
Wherever you are –
in the open chest of the accusatory martyr
who leaned toward me one day in an Italian church,
or on the sleeves of the young, the madly
hopeful and in love – you do what you must,
solitary stoker down there in the body’s hold,
bending to your labour
inspired, certain of yourself. Pure and blind.

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