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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

From LossDavid Harsent
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XIX

This room now: papers and books: a long drift over tables
over chairs to the floor. She said: ‘You’ll find him here
up to his arse in the tar-pits of poetry: find him lost
in some landscape of the mind: the mind’s perfect drear
salt-marsh-as-moonscape-as-snowscape-as-white-over-white
which is limitless from skyline to skyline.’ She said: ‘There
are ghosts here that crowd and jostle: they feed off silences
and wait for nightfall.’ And: ‘I will turn cards to find
what’s left for him: what’s left for me.’ Sometimes
he lies down with these rejects. His finger-bones ache
he imagines them blacked by a lifelong seepage of ink.
Among the crosshatch of deletions one line untouched:
She said: ‘This comes not from the scar but from the wound.’
With that a shift in her womb: the unnamed child.

         She is the girl waiting
         at the crossroads about
         the dead hour of the night
         in the face of fiers magyk
         and whispers from the gibbet
         ready to haul you down
         and hold you fast no matter
         what ugliness you come to.
         She is your lost bride
         and the heart’s failsafe.
         Full moon in midwinter stillness
         is death in abeyance
         as blood slows and you
         are held in that pale light
         frost-fall and a caught breath.
         There is no true healing
         not at the well of sorrows
         not at the whipping-post not
         at the communion rail –
         Christ’s firebreak: not in
         the hall of mirrors where
         you are set to rights
         not in the basement bar
         where you sit down
         to a whisky-chain
         and fall and rise and fall
         back into a raw dawn light
         over high-rise slumland
         whose people each new day
         go blind to daybreak:
         numb to the toxic wind.
         You know too well
         their turf-war battle songs
         their live-by/die-by graffiti
         you know their stopless need.
         Somewhere far from this
         a cloudburst hits
         the clitterfield. A hawk
         rides the thunderhead.
         It is sure evidence of grace
         that stones glow
         in a tarnished light
         that the sound of the sea
         pushes back against
         the sound of the rain
         that she can bring you here
         with a gesture that sets
         you and stones and bird
         in the churn of the weather
         and the arc of the sublime.

                  Prayers are raised against havoc and harm.
                  Tyranny goes by another name.
                  Word is sent from the sightless to the dumb.
                  The storm-horse gallops through the fire-storm.

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