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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

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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

Close
Close

The trick is to create a world
from nothing

– not the sound a blackbird makes
in drifted leaves;

not dogwood
or the unexpected scent
of jasmine by the west gate

not the clouds
reflected in
these puddles all around
the bowling-green
deserted after rain
and darker than an early Polaroid –

but nothing
which is present in the flesh
as ripeness is: a lifelong urgency.

The trick is in the making
not the made

beginning where an idle mind spools out
to borderline and limit
half a mile
of shadow in the pine woods
or a rim

of wetland – rush and willow
gathered close
like mourners in the dark –

a sudden
ambiguity of liverwort or birch
suggesting no man’s land
or journey’s end.

As everything is given
and conceived
imagined real
a stone’s throw in the mind

it’s not the thing itself
but where it stands

– the shadows fanned
or dripping from a leaf
the gap between each named form and the next

where frogs and dragonflies arrive
from nowhere
and the kingdom is at hand
in every shift of colour and degree

bullfinch and squirrel
hawk-moth
and antirrhinum.

All afternoon we’ve wandered from the pool
to alpine beds and roses
and the freshly painted
palm house;

all afternoon
we’ve come back to this shoal
of living fish.

Crimson and black
pearl-white
or touched with gold
the koi hang in a realm of their invention

with nothing that feels like home
– a concrete pool
and unfamiliar plants spotted with light
birdsong and traffic
pollen and motes of dust

and every time the veil above their heads
shivers into noise
they dart
and scatter

though it seems more ritual now
than lifelike fear
as if they understood
in principle
but couldn’t wholly grasp

the vividness of loss

and every time we gaze into this pool
of bodies
we will ask

how much they know of us
and whether this
is all illusion

like the play of light
across a surface gilded with a drift
of pollen

or the sound a blackbird makes
as it withdraws
one moment at a time

remembering its myth of origin.

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