In the latest issue:

Democracy? No thanks

Eric Foner

The Bournemouth Set

Andrew O’Hagan

Short Cuts: How to Block Spike

Rupert Beale

Poem: ‘Lark’

Anne Carson

Mussolini’s Unrealism

Edward Luttwak

Characteristically Spenderish

Seamus Perry

Waiting for Valéry

Michael Wood

Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann

The Case for a Supreme Court

Stephen Sedley

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew

At Las Pozas: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden

Mike Jay

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt

Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades

‘Love at Last Sight’

Chloë Daniel

Instapoetry

Clare Bucknell

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne

Diary: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps

Iain Sinclair

The ServantMatthew Sweeney
Close
Close

I am summoned: a double handclap
from my mother’s ivory hands
and I fill the silver tureen
with pumpkin soup the colour of oranges.
I enter on feet of air.
Her smile subsides like a wave on sand
pointing me towards the curtain
of mauve velvet where I must stand.

Wine is shared. A toast to mother
updates a grace before meals
then the ladle becomes a wand
and oohs climb from warmed stomachs.
My timing is pre-set –
I conjure the plates away
to return, hidden by conversation,
with shark fillets in lime and butter.

I picture the absent fins and teeth
and a red dye in the sea.
Remove the bones, wheel in a trolley
on which a boar, freed from the spit,
sits in a juniper sauce.
Another wine now, old and crimson
then marble potatoes, celeriac matchsticks
and olive lentils pureed in butter.

I bring dessert, despite protests –
its exact identity mother’s secret
though I smell figs and honey
in a foam the lightness of clouds.
Dispatched to the kitchen to grind coffee
I glance at the night through glass –
a slide where the stars are dandruff,
the moon a fingernail-clipping.

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