In the latest issue:

Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

Bona Fide TravellersBernard O’Donoghue
Close
Close
Vol. 25 No. 23 · 4 December 2003
Poem

Bona Fide Travellers

Bernard O’Donoghue

141 words

For Eileen

It meant you had to be from somewhere else
To get a drink. But that was all right for us;
We always were, whether travelling west
Or east. The trouble came when, dozing
On the boat, you half came round and saw
The seabirds bathing, the gannet plunging
Towards his bath, and battalions
Of unknown children, speaking in accents
Different from their parents’. Your book
Has fallen on the floor, the John Hinde
Postcard (from either side to other:
‘Wish you were here!’) has fallen out
And now you’ve lost your place.

In the real world, of course, there’s no such person
As a bona fide traveller. They will pull
The glass out of your hand and order you
To go back to the place you came from,
Whatever you might have called that at the start.

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