In the latest issue:

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

‘The Man in the Red Coat’

Luc Sante

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist

Short Cuts: Ubu Unchained

August Kleinzahler

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

Surplus Sons

Clare Bucknell

Oliver Lee Jackson

Adam Shatz

The Servant Problem

Alison Light

Poem: ‘1 x 30’

Anne Carson

The Old Bailey

Francis FitzGibbon

Jiggers, Rods and Barleycorns

James Vincent

More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn

The Staffordshire Hoard

Tom Shippey

Blessed Isles

Mary Wellesley

At the Movies: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’

Michael Wood

Redeeming Winnie

Heribert Adam

Diary: A Friendly Fighting Force

Nick McDonell

Still LifeMichael Hofmann
Close
Close

A sort of overgrown phial,
opaque blown glass of the sort
we once saw them making at Murano,
whitish – with blue? with yellow?

And sticking out of it
that odd trouvaille, a dried yard
of was it hogweed, Schweinekraut,
Schweinswurzel, something swinish about it,

some hollow dill-like plant
withered to articulate straw
that my father half-inched,
like a spindly triffid on the steel table.

It was an artistic endeavour really,
a momentary juxtaposition
that gathered dust, languishing
like umbrella ribs in an elephant’s foot,

in saecula saeculorum.
As it grew dark, he drew the curtains,
so as not to be seen, or not to show
how much he couldn’t see.

There was a drawn atmosphere
as in Buñuel or La Grande Bouffe,
like being locked up overnight
in an impoverished modern art museum

– as it were, Beuys in Buffalo –

and we slumped like astronauts
in the too-low leather seats
while he peeled and chopped fruit
and handed it around.

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