In the latest issue:

In Quarantine

Erin Maglaque

Après Brexit

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: Springtime for Donald

David Bromwich

Meetings with their Gods

Claire Hall

‘Generation Left’

William Davies

At the North Miami Museum: Alice Paalen Rahon

Mary Ann Caws

Buchan’s Banter

Christopher Tayler

‘American Dirt’

Christian Lorentzen

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow

In Lahore

Tariq Ali

GOD HATES YOUR FEELINGS

James Lasdun

Rereading Bowen

Tessa Hadley

At the Corner House

Rosemary Hill

William Gibson

Thomas Jones

Poem: ‘Murph & Me’

August Kleinzahler

The Stud File

Kevin Brazil

John Boorman’s Quiet Ending

David Thomson

In Shanghai: The West Bund Museum

John-Paul Stonard

Diary: The Deborah Orr I Knew

Jenny Turner

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

Circus on Calton HillRobin Robertson
Close
Close
Vol. 18 No. 8 · 18 April 1996
Poem

Circus on Calton Hill

Robin Robertson

188 words

Edinburgh burns below us,
this blazing day
where flame’s invisible, a dark wave
lapping at the petrol’s grain, as the fire-eaters
assuage their thirst.
The fanned embers of the city rustle
like the wrappers of sweets; heat
tinkering in the coal.
Sitting under the colonnade,
we are so close we almost touch.

Tumblers flip and flex,
desultory on the dry grass;
gulls channer in the stunned heat,
shedding air above us
and over the baking Craigleith stone,
to bank away to the airish Firth
and Inchkeith Island,
the Ferry and the May.
I watch you watching jugglers; the obligatory
lovers, and a snake-woman swallowing a sword.

You are turning heliotropic in this
acropolis of light, barely breaking sweat.
Lifting your hands to your hair a drop
runnels down under one arm to its cup
and the swell of your breast, and I am brimming,
scalding, kittling in the heat,
aching for you at the root of my tongue.
But I cannot find you; as you focus on the girl,
the girl on the grass below: her eyes closing,
her soft mouth as she bends to his.

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