In the latest issue:

The Politics of Like and Dislike

William Davies

The Shrine

Alan Bennett

After the Shock

Adam Tooze

Punishment by Pressing

Hazel V. Carby

The Suitcase

Frances Stonor Saunders

Short Cuts: Thanington Without

Patrick Cockburn

The Lessons of Reconstruction

Randall Kennedy

Company-States

Linda Colley

Eva Hesse

Anne Wagner

Parachuted into France

Neal Ascherson

The Age of Sail

N.A.M. Rodger

Poem: ‘Near Gleann nam Fiadh’

Robin Robertson

‘You People’

Clare Bucknell

What Didn’t Happen

Michael Wood

Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone

Diary: In Ashgabat

James Lomax

Hanging FireRobin Robertson
Close
Close

The impatience for summer
is desire: ritual, imbedded
hard as a hinge
in the earth’s mesh.
From the papery bulb,
the spurred, flesh-green horn
pushes, straining for air;
flexes its distended,
perfect, cleft muscle
out and up through the crust.

Then the deeper sleep of August,
ninety degrees of hanging fire:
the yellow lawns, the blighted
flowerless trees, the malformed leaves
sticky with sarcoma; the only sound
the hot, rhythmic tick of tarmac.
The pigeon splays
and struts after his blushing bride,
drags his thickening tail
behind him through the dust

Once it comes
we want it over;
the need for heat
replaced by the anxiety for winter:
rain to wash it all away,
and frosts to kill it back –
to start again next spring
with that familiar pulse,
that stirring of old ground:
that ache we think is lust.

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