In the latest issue:

Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne

Out-Tissoted

Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester

Close
Close

After Machado

Dear common flies,
ubiquitous and greedy,
how well you conjure up
those times that have gone.

Old flies guzzling
like bees in April,
old flies launching raids
on my new-born head.

Flies of my early
homebound boredoms,
those summer afternoons
when I first learned to dream.

And in the hated classroom,
flies that whizzed past
as we hit out at them
for love of their flight –

flying being everything –
and that buzzed against the windowpanes
on autumn days …
Flies for all seasons:

for infancy and puberty,
for my gilded youth,
for this, my second childhood
of innocence and unbelief,

for now and for ever … Common flies,
you’re too promiscuous
to have found an adequate singer:
I know how you’ve dallied

on marvellous toys,
on the covers of books,
on love letters,
on the unblinking eyelids

of corpses.
Ubiquitous and greedy,
lazier than bees
and scruffier than butterflies,

piffling, unruly,
you’re old friends, nonetheless,
as you conjure up
those times that have gone.

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