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The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

Piketty’s Revolution

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice

Iguana DaysJohn Fuller
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We have seen this pebble before
Though three feet under. From year
To year it changes position.

The sea dwindles its contours
But not to my brief eye
In a mere decade of watching.

Stone keeps its secrets.
Its smoothness is a ruse
To content us with surface.

At the heart of stone is pure
Concentration, which life
Is foolishly in love with.

We believe that the stillness comes
From its exact possession
Of a truth that is lost to us.

*

In the Wiener Museum,
The iguana enacts
Such stillness, elbows braced

And leaning forward into
Thought, years of reflection
Shaping its motionless grin.

It reminds us of Sutherland’s Maugham,
Though there is not a trace
Of that creative arrogance.

Its skin has become stone,
The brain is a stone, finally
Empty of all anxiety.

To bask like this on stone,
Like stone: a century
Might pass before you move.

So we make our images:
The eternity of the pebble,
The monumental pose.

Out in the street sits Ferdinand
Raimund in the repose
Of his theatrical success.

The boulevards circle the city
As the mind deliberates upon
Its roaring purposes.

It is like the sea’s eager
Auditorium, between
The curtains of dusk and dawn

And Raimund is now marble,
Inattentive to applause, finger
Forever marking his chiselled page.

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