In the latest issue:

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

FireguardTony Harrison
Close
Close

The best wood to make chips with for our fire
was from bakehouse boxes Dad brought smeared with lard.
It had a whiplash crack. Its sparks leaped higher.
You had to look sharpish with the fireguard.

Primed with Posts Mam plaited the greased chips
lit with a purple sputter and deep hiss.
More than childhood’s pier-machines or sherbet dips
this fire I learned to lay’s what I most miss,
though my hands got clarted with thick lard and slack
and newsprint from the crumpled Yorkshire Post,
and made the white bread finger-marked and black
when I used the fire I’d lit to make us toast.

Why can’t my memory home in on just that?
Through the griefguard round the glow we all sat near
burst sputterings of polished wood and fat,
then smoke I crane my neck at to watch clear.

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