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Index: Poetry & Fiction

Mirror 53.

‘Time traveller seeks part-time assistant with traditional humanist values: must be good around old maps. Non-smoker. Sense of humour.’ Contours are ignored until they squeeze together. Brown is tough and closest to the sky; green may flood at any time; blue is the idleness of perfection. Instead of a church, an ecumenical shield brandished by […]

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Mirror 51.

‘They know how people feel about their bodies. They know what things are used just once, then simply thrown away.’ If one or two fields are hollowed out for healing, surrounding ploughlands look anaemic, uninvolved. Surgeons and farmers rarely meet – though a tractor may slither down a mudbank. Brilliance is called for when the […]

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Mirror 50.

‘Unconscious fathers, a diaspora of wanderers at large on the sea of souls, share a bond known only to the pantheon’s patriarch.’ Those who have never witnessed birth are an antique tribe with a second chance if the daughter is willing, as she might be if she truly understands. Generations fold into themselves, an asymmetric […]

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Mirror 48.

‘A yellow rose means: “Don’t you love me any more?” A rose with blackfly means: “I wash my hands of you!”’ Flower losses are easily dealt with. Pull the affected petals off or snip the whole head. Ignore the complacent camellia, smiling unarmed at its enemies. War can shake up any court, dress uniforms slashed […]

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Mirror 49.

‘May you feel the loving presence of Ganesh on his birthday (1st September) and on yours. Namaste.’ Using trunks to test unsafe ground, these Atlas elephants were surer than mountain goats. They widened the passes for the army – contrary to popular belief. Their problem was lack of browse. Napoleon may have found a few […]

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Mirror 40.

‘Even the most abysmal performance must be endured without anaesthetic, since you need to be sure the nerves are still alive. Applause may be muted.’ Few instruments, even cheap ones, end up in landfill – far more in the attic’s parc fermé, where superstition keeps them somnolent. Spiders float in strung lairs of trumpet, tambourine, […]

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Mirror 47.

‘Calling the director a vampire, in rehearsals, won for her the love of all the cast, except his mistress, playing Snow White.’ Inhabiting a tree is formative. From fingers browning and falling you progress to almost visible roots, then later to cruelly self-examining in the round, the bourgeoisie undressed, shielded by a dustbin lid. A […]

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Mirror 46.

‘The bone-dry moon that churns a planet’s seas is the ghostly pale moon dislodging a gender’s blood.’ The myth of snow-white Raven stealing sun, moon, stars and water from the eaves of Grey Eagle’s longhouse is for first-year creative writing. Try practical science instead: the elements corresponding with roots, seeds, leaves, flowers; plus lunar astrology. […]

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Mirror 45.

‘The mellifluous name is peculiar to English: locals splutter on a tangle of consonants – a cormorant’s nest, with ramparts of broken vodka bottles.’ Lingering here is unsettling, holding you back from your longings. From the fissure in mountain roughness most people gravitate downstream, knee-deep in alpine flowers, feeling the delta’s pull – the great […]

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Mirror 44.

‘Scalp hunters, babysitters, ferrets, pavement artists walk at least once around the block before entering any building.’ Some agents use national security surveillance to track their lovers – past, present, would-be, fantasy – in the manner of a policeman ‘running a plate for a date’. They might just be practising; or testing new paradigms. Often […]

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Mirror 43.

‘A bad hair day is a day that only starts with uncontrollable hair. The truth is, the mirror gods will often relent by lunchtime.’ Who would have guessed the Cleopatra fringe would be so short-lived? Many suspect foul play: an actress, it’s thought, bought by a rival studio, may have slipped an asp into the […]

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Mirror 42.

‘When the Field Marshal pulled down all the city’s minarets to confuse the occupying army, memory was promoted to the level of valour.’ Which came first, maze or sheepfold? Unarmed, listening intently, head full of shadowy myths, you step undaunted into destiny. Turning a corner you almost bump into a man who resembles your father, […]

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Mirror 41.

‘The tower of the Graduate College was named the Ivory Tower, after the benefactor, whose company made Ivory Soap.’ Descartes teaches in this place of freedom, tranquillity and leisure. A storm might topple a young king and queen from even their most modest aspirations. Their crowns would fall off, and a fool might catch one […]

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Mirror 39.

‘Passenger planes do not carry parachutes at present, since passengers are likely to object to wearing so bulky an object on a long flight.’ A water-powered armillary sphere engineered in brass foretells for learners and demonstrates for teachers the real motions of the earth, the apparent motions of the heavens. Rain fills the bowl – […]

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Mirror 38.

‘Better to wear no gems at all than flawed stones. Better to make an enemy of the tiger than a friend of the rat.’ Amethyst is a sponge for angst, animosity, arrogance. This is just one of many crystals notable for their thirst. You desiccate around them, skin patient for the moisturising kiss the virtuous […]

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