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by Tom Jenks

The museum has paintings of mountains, heroic scenes and food. There are working models of turbines, a famous vase you can look inside and a stuffed lion with green glass eyes. If approached with humility and addressed by its lion name, the lion will tell the future: this weekend’s numbers, the fate of the harvest, the date of the next shipwreck. If addressed by the name given to it by humans, the lion will feign incomprehension, gazing stonily through the long windows and across the fields sloping down to the sea. None of us knows the lion’s lion name. We try random combinations of letters in the fine dust on the display cases. We sit in the cafeteria playing spot the ball, trapped in the present, pouring long-life milk into our instant coffee, sweetening it with saccharine.

Tom Jenks’ latest book is A Long and Hard Night Troubled by Visions (if p then q, 2018). Recent work has appeared or is due in Ploughshares, Okay Donkey, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Confingo, Flash and The Penguin Book of Oulipo. He lives in Manchester and edits the small press zimzalla, specialising in literary objects.