In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

The Ice HotelMatthew Sweeney
Close
Close

I’m going back to the ice hotel,
this time under a false name
as I need to stay there again.

I’ll stand in the entrance hall,
marvelling at this year’s design,
loving the way it can’t be the same

because ice melts and all here is ice –
the walls, the ceiling, the floor,
the seats in the lobby, the bed.

Not that I lay on naked ice,
but on the skins of reindeers,
piled high, as on a sled.

First, though, I went to the bar –
no beer, only vodka –
and I met my sculptor there,

or I should say, my ice sculptor
whose pieces were on display
in every room in the ice hotel,

and who told me his name was Thor.
We stood in that ice-blue light
swapping whisper after whisper,

drinking vodka after vodka
till we agreed to go to bed,
and neither of us slept that night.

Let me tell you about that bed –
ice pillars, two foot high,
each with a lit candle on top,

and wedged in the middle of each
the four corners of an ice sheet
three, maybe four, inches thick.

On this the pelts were laid,
then the Polar Survival bag
that the two of us climbed inside.

Next morning, over Arctic char,
he offered me any sculpture
but which could I take home?

And I didn’t want to go home
but I went. Now I’m going back –
back to the latest ice hotel

with its blue ice, its silence,
its flickering candlelight,
its sculptures I can claim.

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