Upstairs, in the heat, beside the handkerchiefs,
my mother’s navy-blue horsehair mattress

still, although it’s August, smells of damp,
of horses in the hush of damp forests,

of Spassky, still a child, playing chess
all day long, with nobody, in silence –

Spassky, whose seductive ingenuity
my mother has no need to understand.

The eerie bittern – this may sound unfair –
spends her days pretending to be reeds

and people think she’s sulking, but she’s not,
she’s like my mother: sunlight gives her headaches.

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.

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