In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

Late Autumn AfternoonsAugust Kleinzahler
Close
Close
Vol. 19 No. 14 · 17 July 1997
Poem

Late Autumn Afternoons

August Kleinzahler

248 words

Red pear leaves take the light at four,
and a patch of brick on the south, rear wall
stripped of wisteria: the two reds embering
a little while then dying back into the shadows.
A corner of the afternoon is all,
maybe half an hour, not much more –
October, November ... the beech tree bare now.

Sunday’s blow would have done it.
And always the Interstate out there, like surf,
running up to Boston or south to New York.
And broken-up city across the river,
a used-to-be textile port, gutted.
One good high-rise, an old style stepback,
and the power plant on Point Street,

glowing orange now in sodium light,
highlines feeding out of it, dripping
with porcelain isolators. We watch it every night,
red lights blinking from the three tall stacks,
the staggered sequence of its flashing crowns
scaring off the geese and Cessnas.
The turbines and generators roar, never ceasing.

We went inside. We saw it. We heard.
He made us lean underneath and see the flame
through the thick glass, deep in the steel.
And then we went back into the wind,
past the Nightingale Metals truck
and across the bridge on foot. No one saw.
No one knows. The eyes of the beech.

We have examined these afternoons
like a slide taken from a petri dish,
spindles of living matter, degraded, fraying,
taking on new shapes, gray, opalescent.
The red lights in the distance, blinking.
The roar in the boiler house.
The drawn shades.

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