In the latest issue:

In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali


James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The Grange BoyBlake Morrison

Horse-chestnuts thudded to the lawn each autumn.
Their spiked husks were like medieval clubs,
Porcupines, unexploded shells. But if
You waited long enough they gave themselves up –
Brown pups, a cow opening its sad eye,
The shine of the dining-room table.

We were famous for horse-chestnuts. Boys
From the milltown would ring at our door asking
Could they gather conkers and I’d to tell them
Only from the ground – no stick-throwing.
I watched through the casement as they wandered
In shadow, trousers crammed like mint-jars.

One morning they began without asking.
Plain as pikestaffs, their hurled sticks carried down
Whole branches, the air filled like a pillowfight
With rebellion and leaves. I was alone.
I had not father’s booming voice. They were free
To trample through our peaceable estate.

Afterwards, matching father in a show
Of indignation (Bloody vandals and thugs)
I imagined their home ground – the flagged backyards,
The forbidden alleys and passages
Winding up and out on purple moor,
The rooftops like a bar of toblerone.

It is June now, the chestnut blossoming
Like confetti. He summoned me today
To the billiard-room – that incident
With an apprentice. I’ve told you before.
A son in your father’s firm, you’re looked to
For an example. I don’t know what to do.

So I sit at my rosewood desk, lines fading
Across the parkland. I’ve been getting pamphlets
In a plain brown envelope and feel like
A traitor. Dark strangers have been seen by
The wicker-gate. Mother keeps to her bed.
English, we hoard our secrets to the end.

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