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Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne

Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester

Close
Close

In the small hours
I slipped back to childhood for a moment

and lay in my old bed with its view of the chestnut tree.
It was winter

and you had just died;
I was excited, still thinking your death was a thing apart

which soon I would put in the ground like a body
to visit from time to time, and otherwise forget.

But take Ruth,
who drowned last week.

I used to fancy her –
now all I think
is what water can do,
easing off shoes,
making light
of the dense net of her tights.

To hell with out of place!
The pissy Thames is rubbing away your face!

I dropped off
and dreamed I was in the Black Museum

where I met a woman six inches high,
hollow, white tunic, blue-green sash at the waist,

holding a basket of flames.
Her china face

had its features kissed away,
but the eyes were yours.

You could tell at a glance why some idiot thought
she was worth nothing at all.

Daylight breaks
and my children trawl
the drizzling passage
from their room to mine
which takes them years
but is only a step.

Sunk on the bed
of a parched well
where sleep ran out,
I stare overhead
and brace myself
for their circle of eyes.

The time they arrive
is the time they go –
their almost inaudible
blobs of mouth
ooh-ing and aah-ing
like shouting fish:

We searched for ever
to find your door,
and even then
it was always locked.
Wake up, damn you.
Wish us good luck.

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