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Loathed by Huysmans

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Indefinite Lent

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The House of York

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

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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