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

Mother as Script and IdealJohn Burnside
Vol. 37 No. 11 · 4 June 2015

Mother as Script and Ideal

John Burnside

141 words

Always, I am coming home
from hunting frogs or standing in the swim
of wind beneath the last dyke
and the sea;
                  and, always, she is there,
in lanternglow,
a light that makes this world believable.

My eyes turned from the snuff
of paraffin and darkness in that house
so long ago, I barely know it’s gone:
the washrooms rinsed with frost, a skewed moon
picking out the paths from here to there
where someone, not myself,

still wanders, till I lie down in the warm
and wait for her to come, her hands
a labyrinth of mint and carrion, her book
the only one I have, its pages
fingerstained with daisychain and lilac,
and such depth in the pictures, I would find

The Snow Queen, or the Lady of the Lake
so readily, I thought they must be mine.

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