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

The Inequality Engine

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

Close
Close

A ten-minute Jesuit nap with shoes on
releases the hypnagogic sentences
mimicking the rhythms of sports commentary,
morphing darkly into a story like this:
In the sunless world where we’d arranged to meet
everything’s lit from within and space has nerves
that pass through your throat (if you slide along them
like a curtain ring it will hurt the next day)
but it turned out to be much harder to leave
my body behind than my slugabed mind,
so we plumped for the Donkey on Fire instead
with its comforting smell of public carpet,
billiard balls clacking and vinyl silences.

Having lit my way through the gloom with a pint,
I slumped on a couch to watch elastic blobs
collide and coalesce in a lava lamp.
How is it possible to return from there
with the briefly glowing certitude that all
is forgiven and a hypnopompic snap
of softly obliterated prints left by
a barefoot Carmelite errand in the snow?

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