In the latest issue:

The Word from Wuhan

Wang Xiuying

‘The Man in the Red Coat’

Luc Sante

Is it OK to have a child?

Meehan Crist

Short Cuts: Ubu Unchained

August Kleinzahler

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery

Surplus Sons

Clare Bucknell

Oliver Lee Jackson

Adam Shatz

The Servant Problem

Alison Light

Poem: ‘1 x 30’

Anne Carson

The Old Bailey

Francis FitzGibbon

Jiggers, Rods and Barleycorns

James Vincent

More Marple than Poirot

J. Robert Lennon

On Rachael Allen

Matthew Bevis

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn

The Staffordshire Hoard

Tom Shippey

Blessed Isles

Mary Wellesley

At the Movies: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’

Michael Wood

Redeeming Winnie

Heribert Adam

Diary: A Friendly Fighting Force

Nick McDonell

Close
Close

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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