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

Close
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A girl who slept in a truck tyre
and walked a year of miles
was driven back down through dry forests
on a small-eyed bus with drooping heads –
to no rooms for a child, but the murderers were there,
ones with fingers, ones with lips,
the spiny-back lizard who killed her brother
after Mama ran away
like an angel without wings.
‘I mean to find your father’ – did the girl
have a father? – ‘in America.’

That girl who slept in a truck tyre,
whose brother was alive – she saw him
near the iron-slab graves,
where metal cattle sprawled in the yard.
The murderers tried
to hold the boy down. To squeeze
his brow, drink eyes for juice,
mix ears in a cup with clear liquor.
She snuck him away to the long roads.
The little box he carried in a sack –
he said it was his bones.

She lifted him with two hands,
pushed him with one.
Thousands of miles, he hung on her back.
Thousands more, he followed her.
They slept one night in an arc of tread.
When she woke, the dark-green
trees smelled of tar. She lost all the food.
They ate the long red grass,
until they felt like rats, until a few men saw.
Caught the boy, but the girl could run

until there were no train tracks,
pine-pitch, sun. And the moon
hung, a pitted blade,
above the floodlights.
She carved out a dark
that hid her from the guards.
She fooled the dogs because she smelled like rubber.
She fooled the wild pigs
because she smelled like a child.
She got up from a day in her truck tyre
and by night crossed the border again.

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