In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane

Tativille

David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Three PoemsAnge Mlinko
Close
Close

Belated Treatment

We went to the vivarium – to see
the tropical butterflies in a
walk-through biodome. They were
cocooning, their insides filled
with meconium. The cocoons looked
like jade and rosy quartz pendants
for ladies’ ears – with gold worked in,
something Babylonian.
Enormous specimens
breathed against treebark.

Belated naturalists we.
I kept repeating to myself:
the mind is not a little spa.
The Mind is not a little Spa.
You can’t retreat to its imaginary
standard distance
when outside construction
can’t be told from ruin.
The butterflies set themselves
down like easels
on bromeliads, but their brushes
can’t reach to scratch their
palette

Stet Stet Stet

Where the curve of the road rhymes with the reservoir’s
and cleared of the leafy veils that for six months
obscured it,
the landscape’s wet chestnut
in the grey descended cloud
intones  You’re lucky to live in a watershed
so no vast tracts of tacky drywall
turn the land into peremptory enclosures.
You’ve bought in.
The venial sin:
being exceptional.
Reading Hölderlin.
And the natural hallucinogen of joy
helium-cum-oxygen
leaving wordy outputs
hanging on piney tenterhooks
while all the wild protected liminal woods
contrive a blind.

The Eros of Nothing

The icy clearances
where the trees used to cast their shade
in the form of their summary leaf
speak to me of
nothing, carried out to the letter.
Tempests, mountains – the grander genders
submit nothing to the letter.
The distance
between the winter equinox
and perihelion keeps growing.
But it will again be nothing.
The black under my nails reminds me
this day’s mystery was in eating a pomegranate
with my small son and on my blue shirt now
– nothing!

Though when the blanched leaves shiver
silent chimes beyond the glass
brings either the rapture [my children . . .]
or self-criticism  of one who comes with a theory
[. . . are an economy of scarcity]
of myself there is no more evidence
to admit – only consistent
with limestone’s incessant weeping
cave a madonna’s
negative.

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