In the latest issue:

The World Goes Bust

Adam Tooze

A nice girl like Simone

Joanna Biggs

The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding

Short Cuts: Built from Light

Daniel Soar

‘Cleanness’

Edmund Gordon

The Ghent Altarpiece

Julian Bell

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell

At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard

Conrad Jumps Ship

Fredric Jameson

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Poem: ‘Mayfly’

Fiona Benson

Follow the Science

James Butler

Diary: #coronasomnia

Wang Xiuying

Man in SpaceCharles Boyle
Close
Close

No, I said, the title wasn’t sexist,
I was thinking about the Russian cosmonauts
who were stuck in orbit, and how they hooked up a British princess
and an interpreter
and got them to make polite conversation.

Then there was Daniel, who wanted a child
but whose girlfriend didn’t.
After five years of precautions
he began sleeping with another woman.

The night he told me she was pregnant
and that he didn’t love her, he told me also
his recurring dream: he’s tobogganing
down this hill he remembers, it was called the Death Trap –
near the bottom you had to make a sharp turn
and steer through a gate, if you failed
you smashed into a fence.

Now he’s gathering speed, going faster and faster ...
And suddenly there’s nothing there, just snow
upon snow upon snow.

I poured us another glass. And the child too, I told him,
like an illegal immigrant, stowed away
in darkness, among the crates of Old World cheeses
and bits of machinery, en route to the promised land.
You have to make that arrival good.

He said it’s not like that, it’s all refrigerated
containers. We argued
about the transport of whisky, and about the girls of America.

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