In the latest issue:

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

‘The Man in the Red Coat’

Luc Sante

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist

Short Cuts: Ubu Unchained

August Kleinzahler

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

Surplus Sons

Clare Bucknell

Oliver Lee Jackson

Adam Shatz

The Servant Problem

Alison Light

Poem: ‘1 x 30’

Anne Carson

The Old Bailey

Francis FitzGibbon

Jiggers, Rods and Barleycorns

James Vincent

More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn

The Staffordshire Hoard

Tom Shippey

Blessed Isles

Mary Wellesley

At the Movies: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’

Michael Wood

Redeeming Winnie

Heribert Adam

Diary: A Friendly Fighting Force

Nick McDonell

Close
Close

My parcel was delivered to the college
Thoroughly packaged, like an only child ...
I tear my father’s beautifully-written note
(Please acknowledge receipt, Love Mum & Dad)
Then fold the wrapping for possible re-use.
A breeze laps the posters crusting the wall;
Like lily pads, they compete to face the light.

I bump into Philip inside the Lodge.
He asks to see the gift – another four-sleeved
Pullover! Raising it shoulder-high, he
Teases me about the additional arms
Till I make my excuses and leave him
At the pigeonholes to scurry to my room.

I lay the jumper on my coverlet
And step back to survey the lively design –
Summery shades of green and blue in bars
A centimetre wide around the middle;
And seagulls, too. Trying it on before
My full-length mirror, I turn in circles like
A weather-vane. The sleeves rotate with me!

Dizzier than Lewis Carroll’s Alice, I
Finish instead an essay due at six ...
My sides itch as I write. Just below the ribs,
Above my pelvis, carpal bones, knuckles,
And ten fingernails push through the flesh like roots.
Should I telephone home, or should I wait?

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