In the latest issue:

The World Goes Bust

Adam Tooze

A nice girl like Simone

Joanna Biggs

The Arrestables

Jeremy Harding

Short Cuts: Built from Light

Daniel Soar


Edmund Gordon

The Ghent Altarpiece

Julian Bell

You can’t prove I meant X

Clare Bucknell

At the Royal Academy: Léon Spilliaert

John-Paul Stonard

Conrad Jumps Ship

Fredric Jameson

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

Poem: ‘Mayfly’

Fiona Benson

Follow the Science

James Butler

Diary: #coronasomnia

Wang Xiuying

Two PoemsAlice Oswald

Story of a Man

last time a man was sealed in skin
like an inspoken word sealed in
it was mid-spring, most people arm in arm, most trees whispering
and he could just make out the fluttering light

it was warm, it was days you walk out without a coat
and little rain showers dash across the carpark
and he stood there, like a man on film, going on with his heartwork
at last at last he could think clearly

this is myself, he said,
rubbing round all four sides of my breeze-block patience
this is one or two flying strands of my eyes
this is my heart’s halo’s prismatic subdivisions

there were people bringing chairs to the fire-escapes, peering down.
it was mid-spring
and all day, all he could breathe
was the crow’sfoot tracks of his sighs’ small hollows in the air.

then in the half light, it half thawed,
he half, with a mist-hand, waved
alive in his skin-ruins.
at last at last he could think clearly

Walking Past a Rose This June Morning

is my heart a rose? how unspeakable
is my heart a rose? how unspeakable
is my heart folded to dismantle? how unspeakable
is a rose folded in its nerves? how unspeakable
is my heart secretly overhanging us? pause
is there a new world known only to breathing?
now inhale what I remember. pause. how unbreathable

this is my heart out. how unspeakable
this is my risen skin. how unthinkable
this is my tense touch-sensitive heart
this is its mass made springy by the rain
this loosening compression of hope. how unworkable
is an invisible ray lighting up your lungs? how invisible?
is it a weightless rapture? pause. how weightless?

now trace a breath-map in the air. how invisible?
is a rose a turning cylinder of senses? how unspeakable
is this the ghost of the heart, the actual
the inmost deceleration of its thought? how unspeakable
is everything still speeding around us? pause
is my heart the centre? how unbearable
is the rain a halo? how unbearable

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

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