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Ice Skater

1 Minute Read

I could have been a prodigy

if I’d grown up in Upper Saxony,

in my father’s small town with big

lakes and forests and seven aunts,

all widowed in the war and

eager to teach me to ski, langlauf

and skate on ice by the age of three.

But that would mean rewriting history.


I learned at Streatham Arena,

an unsteady teenager, shuffling along

to the Wurlitzer Juke Box, always cold

and cautious, clinging on to the boards.

Now, each winter, I join the crowds

at Somerset House and get by as well

as anyone else, tipsy on Glühwein.

But I’ve never done a back flip or

a spin or a cantilever or a triple lutz.

The Helmet-maker’s Wife (After a sculpture by Rodin)

1 Minute Read

She who was once his beautiful young wife
looks out at the flat northern sky,
the vertical rise of industrial smoke,
a broken scarecrow in a fallow field,
a solitary magpie on a tree stump,
the rusted creaking garden gate,
empty snail shells along the path,
a fine layer of dust along the window sill                       
and remembers a dress, in darkest red,
that unfastened at the back
with twenty-seven hooks and eyes.
The Rodin sculpture “The helmet-maker’s beautiful young wife” is a small bronze statue in The Burrell Collection, a gallery in Glasgow.
Surprise Me

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