In the latest issue:

Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Close
Close

She lay mute as an Old Testament sacrifice;
nothing so abundant as a thicket –
but barbed wire, a secular parallel,
the sheep had snagged her horn on, days before

judging by the jaundiced eyes and tantrum
of panic, perfunctorily abandoned
when we came by. She must have tried grazing
the wrong side, where the promised pastures grow,

and ended up like this – involved
in a fatally elegant metal-puzzle.
Like Samson, the secret of her strength
was her undoing. Plush Derry peat

that let its coppery fluid seep
round every footprint till the ling sprung back
had stained the once-white fleece with darkness
in a rising watermark. Keckhanded

Samaritans, we unwound the ravelled horn and stood
rooted as the sheep reared in reverse out,
Lazarus-like, from the bared earth’s open trench
and, as if the wire’s plucked note, running its length

faint as a pulse, had knelled for no one else,
her lungs rasped like broken bellows, her back legs
braced to uphold the body’s earthbound weight
then let the burden fall back on its own.

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