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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

Close
Close

The Shelter

I should never have stayed
in this cold shieling
once the storm passed
and the rain had finally eased.

I could make out shapes
in here, the occasional sound:
a muffled crying
which I took for wind in the trees;
a wasp,
stuttering there at the windowsill.
I listened. What looked like
a small red coat

was dripping from its wire hanger.

There was a shift and rustle
coming from the bucket in the corner
by the door; I found, inside,
a crumpled fist
of balled-up paper, slowly
uncrinkling.

On the hearth, just legible
in the warm ash, my name and dates,
and above that, in a shard
of mirror left in the frame,
I caught sight of myself, wearing
something like a black brooch at the neck.
Then I looked more closely
and saw what it was.

A & E

It was like wetting the bed
waking up that night, soaked through:
my sutures open again
and the chest wound haemorrhaging.
Pulling on jeans and an overcoat
I called a car to Camberwell, and
shivering in by the rubber doors
presented myself
at that Saturday-night abattoir
of Casualty at King’s on Denmark Hill.

Amid this carnage, behind her desk
and barred window, the triage nurse
was already waving me away –
till I parted the tweed to show her
what was going on underneath.
Unfashionable, but striking nonetheless:
my chest undone like some rare waistcoat,
with that lace-up front – a black échelle
its red, wet-look leatherette,
those fancy, flapping lapels.

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