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

Invisible HandMark Ford
Vol. 28 No. 20 · 19 October 2006

Invisible Hand

Mark Ford

253 words


A white finger of frost along the spine
Of the country, and the first rumours of the first
Female Archbishop of Canterbury: while still
In her cradle the Lord filled
Her to the brim, and drove headlong
The querulous demons whose riddles
End only in debt and pain; her dimpled
Right hand seemed to grasp and poise
A miniature crozier, and her eyes
Peered through tears at the sins of the world.


Weeping also, a woman in a coal-black dress says Adios
Amigo. She is fleeing
The grip of the huntsman, his suddenly
Drawn knife, his wispy moustache, harsh stubble
And secretly melting heart; through a tangle of russet briars
He watches her plunge into the woods
And be gone. Which way is home? The feathery bracken
Sighs and stirs, hisses around his knees, gets caught
In his gaiters. I spy, he thinks, with these tough stems
In my eye, something beginning with green.


He called me better looking than a newborn canary, then asked
If I was asking him to dance. A cheap shot,
I trilled back, from a cheapskate. But here, at any rate, was one
Sharp enough to descry the thread that ties
Cause and effect. In a wing-beat we’d agreed on what
We’d need to learn to love: guilt,
Unending guilt . . . and after a few
Dizzying flutters of fear, that proved not so difficult. Let Rome
In Tiber melt, we’d cry, pirouetting
Through patient skies, high above the city’s lights and sirens.

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