In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

DesiderataHubert Moore
Close
Close

‘A firm light quick step’
– after lunch, amongst casualties –
‘and a steady quick hand:
these are the desiderata.’

Night-light under the alders.
In the dark grass by the river
we lie low licking our wounds,
watching the English nurse

move briskly about the ward
– the dormobiles, the caravans,
and the soft clockwork
of (mostly French) conversation.

Back at her tent she chooses
not romance or a thriller
but ‘Notes’, by Florence Nightingale:
‘What Nursing is and what it is not.’

Perhaps we come in her book?
– the German father’s hip,
our Netherlander neighbours’
high-grade mongol daughter,

and man after man
– our sunbeds stretched in the shade,
our women visiting –
glancing up at the quick

step through the hospital,
past our temperature-charts,
our eyes murmuring illnesses
– what we have, what we have not –

our lips discovering
one shared word for what’s lovely,
what’s needed: O
Desiderata.

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