In the latest issue:

An Ordinary Woman

Alan Bennett

Anglo-America Loses its Grip

Pankaj Mishra

Short Cuts: John Bolton’s Unwitting Usefulness

Mattathias Schwartz

Smells of Hell

Keith Thomas

Mrs Oliphant

Tom Crewe

Tippett’s Knack

Philip Clark

At Tate Modern: Steve McQueen

Colin Grant

Catherine Lacey

Nicole Flattery

Churchill’s Cook

Rosemary Hill

The ‘Batrachomyomachia’

Ange Mlinko

On Dorothea Lange

Joanna Biggs

Paid to Race

Jon Day

Poem: ‘Traveller’s Tales: Chapter 90’

August Kleinzahler

The Soho Alphabet

Andrew O’Hagan

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley

Victor Serge’s Defective Bolshevism

Tariq Ali

The Murdrous Machiavel

Erin Maglaque

Diary: Insane after coronavirus?

Patricia Lockwood

A MiscalculationKaren Solie
Close
Close
Vol. 39 No. 5 · 2 March 2017
Poem

A Miscalculation

Karen Solie

262 words

Like a king from a promontory
the kestrel presides from an updraft, an array
of barely perceptible movements sustaining
balance and attention, and the woodmouse,
the shrew, the secondary characters,
know whose watch they’re under. There are no

bystanders among them. The razorbill’s piety
winters at sea, is secular and medium-sized,
black above, white below; while,
frontloaded with military technology,
gannets send notes of the aquatic scale
straight to the emotional signature clusters,

though the proprietors of these emotions
are to them as senseless an element
as the shadow I cast over a vole’s workday,
my presence too non-specific for relevance.
It was November when I made these notes,
then in absentminded self-disgust

set out on the path from Crail,
and by sunset, at four, could neither return
nor make Kingsbarns before dark.
Though no one knew where I was, real danger
lay elsewhere. No cows even. Just sleepless
fields staring skyward and the firth prowling

the forest of itself, what’s hidden as well as
what hides it. To turn back would have made sense
but I chose otherwise, a lamp post
at what I assumed was the golf course
a fixed point I couldn’t seem to advance on,
like a failure of interpretation pursued because now

it is your life. Proportion vanished. A creature
scratching at a stone dyke was big as the North
Atlantic, and my body, not as old as when visible,
became, not one with mind, but indistinguishable –
consciousness feeling with the blunt toe
of its boot as its footprints fill with groundwater.

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