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

Piketty’s Revolution

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

Close
Close

The aeroplane must have been there
for several weeks. A few birds
were absent-mindedly picking through
the mangled remains of small children,
and a gold dog ran in and out
of the empty cabin, cradling
a spotted quince in its mouth.
The man we were looking for
was lying on a day-bed
under a red tree.
He seemed to be having some problem
with his skin, and was wearing
a pair of white silk gloves
and a white blood-stained hat.
He was the only survivor able to speak
and even he was too weak to talk
for more than a few minutes at a time.
He was an ex-oil-pipe-contractor
and a millionaire
who had been looking for a place
to breed orchids … and as he spoke
he lay back on the bleached canvas
of his ancient bed,
his eyes beginning to run,
his limp white penis
resting in the sunlight
on his glove. While my colleague
went in search of a blanket,
I listened to the gunfire
from the valley,
where my daughter lay awake
behind closed curtains
guarded by sweet machines
like a rare flower.

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