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Robespierre’s Chamber Pot

Julian Barnes

Too early or too late?

David Runciman

Short Cuts: Five Victorian Marriages

Tom Crewe

Society as a Broadband Network

William Davies

Fifteen days from now

Thomas Jones

In 1348

James Meek

The Yorkists

John Guy

At the Movies: Pasolini’s ‘Teorema’

Michael Wood

Whitehall Spookery

Neal Ascherson

Poem: ‘The Bannisters’

Paul Muldoon

Clarice Lispector

Rivka Galchen

Marius Petipa

Simon Morrison

At the Foundling Museum: ‘Portraying Pregnancy’

Joanne O’Leary

Gordon v. O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

Poem: ‘The Reach of the Sea’

Maureen N. McLane

Diary: Where water used to be

Rosa Lyster

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Lizard Orchid

I
All ears in the Mugello
What with the far cuckoo,
The harmonising frog
And crickets everywhere,
Domestic sounds as well –
Heidi baking a chestnut
Cake, Lorenzo’s ladder
Scraping the cherry tree –
We find in Silvano’s
Sloping upper meadow
Close to the wood, regal
Among seeding grasses,
An orchid, each lower lip
A streamer, extroversion
Requiring subtle breezes,
A name to silence cuckoo
And frog, lizard orchid.

II
Did the muddy boots of Tommies
Really bring back to England
From the Great War lizard-orchid
Seeds – stalks taller than you’d think,
Tongues little-finger-long, ribbons
For widow hats – dead soldiers
Returning, adhesive souls?

Two Otters

She toddles to the lake without a name,
Your two-year-old, and watches an otter,
Her first otter, half-expected by you
Because, when you were expecting her,
You watched your last otter from this spot,
Your body a holt for otter and child.

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