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Michael Hulse, from The Secret History

Photographs of K.

I 935, Lucien Aignier

Benito Mussolini
squeezes his offending nostrils
absolutely shut
with leather-gloved efficient fingers,
stifling a ticklish undignified threat of a sneeze,
and keeps his pig-at-the-abattoir eye
securely fixed
on the fawning Party faithful come to see him off at Stresa.

Unobserved on another platform,
called by no one to attention,
petulantly K. leafs through
a page or two
of a history of Abyssinia,
slipping her sandals off and rubbing a foot against her calf.