In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

The Inequality Engine

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

A Gift of a RoseFred D’Aguiar
Close
Close
Vol. 12 No. 20 · 25 October 1990
Poem

A Gift of a Rose

Fred D’Aguiar

188 words

Two policemen (I remember there were at least two)
stopped me and gave me a bunch of red, red roses.
I nursed them with ice and water mixed with soluble aspirin.
The roses had an instant bloom attracting stares
and points from children; toddlers cried and ran.

This is not the season for roses everyone said,
you must have done something to procure them.
I argued I was simply flashed down and the roses
liberally spread over my face and body to epithets
sworn by the police in praise of my black skin and mother.

Others told me to take care of the flowers, photo them,
a rare species, an example for others, a statistic;
that the policemen should be made a return gift
crossed several minds – a rose for a rose.
With neglect, they shrivelled and disappeared.

Stopping all the looks when I went Saturday shopping.
Though deflowered, a memory of roses burned clear.
Now, when I see policemen ahead, I take the first exit;
I even fancy I have a bouquet of my own for them;
I pray they’ll keep their unseasonable gifts to themselves.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences