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

Two PoemsAlice Oswald
Close
Close

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

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