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

Ten Steps to the SeaAllen Curnow
Close
Close
Vol. 20 No. 1 · 1 January 1998
Poem

Ten Steps to the Sea

Allen Curnow

284 words

I

Repeat this experience
wilfully.
Instruct this
experience to repeat
itself.

II

With or without
vicarious detail for all
verities of this place.
Me too.

III

Plenty of that
already. Kikuyu grass
underfoot, thunderheads, purple-
patched sunshine offshore, onshore
the high dunes, the hollows of
wetted sand, rabbit shit.
Foot of a cliff, arm of a stream
where fallen yellow bloom
degrades.
September sickness.
El Niño weather.

IV

One wild, white
arum leans landward a little, round
which in its pool, drip-fed off
a slimed rock-face, is arranged the sky
for inspection.

V

A remark
for the rising sun. I see
by what blinds me.

VI

Telling us about
his cancer, he said: ‘They can control
the pain till there’s well really
no pain, but then there’s no reality.’
He said: ‘I try to balance
the two, as little pain
as possible, as much reality
as possible.’

VII

One moment before
that cloud bursts and the flash
flood swipes, I’m across
safely, seeing stringers, planks,
gadarening down into the tide
which rises to receive them. There
goes our bridge. How the upstream
railing splintered, the deck duck-
diving, you’d never know now.
Good as new.

VIII

The pain is the dog
not heeding the whistle, on account
of scenting a rabbit or an old
turd, his own possibly, or snuffing
ashes of a Sunday campfire because of
the slab and the grate provided there.
Will he follow?

IX

Up and over the sandhills? Not much
help in the sea’s habitual heave,
sprawl, grumble, hiss.

X

In reality,
no. A step in the right direction.
The pain is this wind, which blows the whole
time, uncontrollably.
In your face.

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