In the latest issue:

The American Virus

Eliot Weinberger

The Home Life of Inspector Maigret

John Lanchester

Story: ‘Have a Seat in the Big Black Chair’

Diane Williams

The Last Whale

Colin Burrow

In Beijing

Long Ling

Princess Margaret and Lady Anne

Rosemary Hill

At the Movies: ‘Arkansas’

Michael Wood

Ruin it your own way

Susan Pedersen

At Home

Jane Miller

The Ottoman Conundrum

Helen Pfeifer

Poem: ‘Muntjac’

Blake Morrison

The Inequality Engine

Geoff Mann

Short Cuts: In Tripoli

Jérôme Tubiana

Coetzee Makes a Leap

Christopher Tayler

At Auckland Castle: Francisco de Zurbarán

Nicola Jennings

Drain the Swamps

Steven Shapin

Diary: In the Isolation Room

Nicholas Spice


Court of the Lions

After fifty years to revisit the Alhambra and witness
the same water spewing from the lion’s maw:
I remember wearing a silver short-sleeved shirt
adorned with dragons, and for the first time,

on the airport runway, hearing the night alive
with the cicadas’ tiny anvils. This time, the metal plate
screwed to my femur vibrates to their call, my heart
to the murmur of marble, the patter of water.


By some cosmic quirk the disconnected phone
unleashed a scarlet squeal. – I pounced.
Before the apology expired I asked and got
the wrong number the voice had tried,

so for a whole year without a single bill
I owned those magic digits to dispense
– only for incoming not outgoing calls
but a tiny lifeline to the ancient flat

in via Torquato Tasso I shared with the din
of Cerberus barking in the courtyard – forget the rat –
and a crack the earthquake left in the vaulted ceiling.

Thirty years on, in the small dark hours,
I reach for the black Bakelite receiver
to hear the music of Venus receding.

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