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

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

Two PoemsIan Hamilton
Close
Close

Family Album
In this one you look miles away
And I’m wearing a tolerant half-smile
That seems to say I’ve fixed things rather well.
What things?

The turreted edifice behind us
I don’t recognise at all. Nor can I place
These avenues of trees, abundant
But municipal, well-kept.

It’s evidently summertime, and getting late,
A little before supper-bell, I’d guess,
Or prayers.
Another grainy, used-up afternoon.


But what about that speck
There, to the right, a figure on a bench
Perhaps, not looking and yet looking?
And who does that dark, motionless dog-shape belong to?
There, beside that tree.
And look at how those shadows,
So uneven, seem to corrugate the lawn.
We’re out at sea,
So you would say, or would have said.

Not all that many years ago,
I might have asked you to explain
Where, when and who,
And maybe why,
And you’d have wanted to. You’d have been
Able to. Not now, though,
Not today. Don’t even try.

Almost Nothing
It is an almost-nothing thing, I know
But it won’t let me go. It’s not a scent
Exactly, but on hot days or at night I do remember it
As slightly burnt, or over-ripe:
Black wheatfields, sulphur, skin.
It’s noiseless too
Although from time to time I think I’ve heard it
Murmuring: a prayer
Presumably, a promise or a plea. And no,
It’s not at all substantial; that’s to say
It’s substanceless, it’s not a thing
That you could touch or see.

It doesn’t hurt but it belongs to me.
What do we call it then,
This something in the air, this atmosphere,
This imminence?
Today, because you’ve turned away,
I’ll call it nothing much,
I’ll call it, since you’re frightened, here to stay.

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