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

Enter, FleeingMark Ford
Close
Close
Vol. 37 No. 22 · 19 November 2015
Poem

Enter, Fleeing

Mark Ford

303 words

Undo that step, or at the least
tread softly, for a sleek
and bushy-tailed urban fox
is counting chick-
chick-chick-
chickens in his dreams; when he wakes
he’ll yawn
and prowl, while I’ll
be staring, shamefaced, down
the grainy, haunted
vistas opened
by insomnia. Sing, birds, I mean all
ye bird-brained in every
furrow that you hop in; warble
tales of the species that will wade
through estuaries, and stalk the plains, or tunnel
beneath them, after mishap
or meteor. Convulsed
and jangling, flooded
with adrenaline, the body empties itself of water in order
to skedaddle, to leap
and run ever higher
and faster, only the seconds
pass and each
stretched limb, each trembling joint stays
locked in unremitting combat
with itself. Gulp
or gab, gab, gab, gulp – out
stream the lies, twisting
in the wind, for who

ever felt a single sensation? Is not
everyone at the same moment
conscious that there co-
exist a thousand
others? I flinched when the tongue of the thin
green snake flickered as I slid
through the hedge; American milk
tasted different, while in blurry
black-and-white an eager
villain heaved
his shield at Fluid-Man, who changed, chuckling
aloud, into mist or stream, or slanting
rain. I saw, amazed, a cartoon
needle stitching nametags inscribed
in flaming italics with my own
initials and name
into the waistbands and collars
of unfamiliar clothes; the air
was sucked out
of my lungs, while iridescent specks wriggled
and turned turtle
before my eyes. My brother
was singing of Daniel – he was leaving
tonight on a plane … we watched
the red tail lights
at O’Hare, and found that he’d left
behind in our elegantly-finned
maroon Chevrolet his equally maroon school cap, which I
at once hoisted high, and then
with a grimace, and a flourish, put on.

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