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

Trees

Above all, I should find it hard
To abandon these trees,
This parkful of branches and leaves
That for years I have watched grow
Thicker, greener, closer –
So close now to these tall windows
That I think their green fingers
Reach out to the glass, claiming
This room, as if they finally
Belong inside.

Already they have forced me
To choose a particular pattern
Or colour or shape in here;
They are doubled in gilt-framed
Mirrors, matched in green carpet;
On one wall there is a painting
Of trees: a picture strangely
Composed of all those colours
That are trapped and flickering
In my opal ring – pinks
And mauves and blues.

But the trees I speak of are
Green and only green to me;
And tonight, out there, beneath
The growing dark, they wait;
Enfolding their birds: having
Power, these trees,
Such power.

At the End of April

The sun still waits in the back of the sky,
But it’s warmer now; great bunches of leaves
Come shouldering, clambering
Up through the earth, overnight it seems –
To be ready for poppies, perhaps,
Or stiff stalks of gold plate.

The birds, now perfectly certain,
Speed low over the Green, with beaks clamped tight
On difficult bits for nests;
While beneath their flight
The wicket is being carefully cut and measured
For an early game.

Old people emerge from winter to sit
Again round the edge of the Green;
And when they lean forward to talk,
Or throw bread to the birds, or sniff the twirling
Cuttings of grass, they lean away
From the lettering carved on the backs of their seats –

Words that say
Given in Memory of one who loved to sit
Here on the Green, and watch cricket –
Or the spring coming; or their time
Going; or whatever it was they
Saw in the afternoons.

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