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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

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 SkatersJames Lasdun
Close
Close

Their town’s the quaint one:
the board won’t let it sprawl
more than a half-mile from the green’s
little pool-table of grass and shiny tulips
where Santa lands in winter and the teens
play hackysack all summer. There’s no mall,

no motel either,
which is just what they want;
they voted for the good life there;
they can afford it: no fast-food chain, no sixplex,
they’ll quietly brag; no trailer park, no air-
or groundwater-fouling autoshop or plant . . .

You’ll find all that here
in the next town along.
You’ll know you’ve reached us when you pass
a smooth vast meadow with a thousand white pipes
curved down like candycane, venting the gas
from their buried garbage. Then all the usual wrong

doable by men
to a stubborn landscape,
to settle it and make it pay,
goes reeling by; the usual aching and craving
risen on blasted granite and raw clay.
They point their finger and they call it rape,

and maybe they’re right,
though from some viewpoints, folks
might think them hypocritical,
like how they bring their kids to the new Kiwanis
ice-rink – the kids all slim and tall
from too little candy (one of our little jokes) –

every damn weekend.
Not that they’re not welcome –
anyone can come here that wants:
here’s failure without the allure, here’s the mirage
gone from marriage; beer guts slung over pants,
butts like boulders in spandex, hard mouths home

on weekend parole;
here the abused and creased,
the maimed-in-spirit, the tainted
(what by no one remembers or cares any more)
totter out on their blades to get reacquainted
with sheer effortless rapture, or at least

the idea of it:
that frictionless surface
gets scratched and bleared up before long,
then turns to a thick, grey, gravelly slurry
which, we have to admit, is easier-going,
maybe because it reminds us of us,

though for a moment,
the page of ice still bare,
we’re just like them again: all flow,
our stumblings still not written, the world so primed
we’re back believing where we want to go
we’ll get to just by wishing ourselves there.

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