All the Important Things

Curracloe Beach revisited, July 2016

Only last week we walked here, raincoats
throat-zipped, scarfs doubled,
a curious seal our sole company.

The sand, a shade between cement
and cardboard, released fine powder,
whipped ankle skin.

IMG_2467Two horses thundered past;
You swam here? he said, and made me
wonder if time had distorted it all,

if the flipbooks were real—
Did I really, age nine and nut-brown,
fossick for pretty shells,

eat hard-boiled eggs
and scallions, drink Tupperware-tea
after my third dip of the day?


Today, he has left for Moscow,
but I have my answer: the sky—
kite-ribboned, Falcon-brochure blue.

Hoards throng in every shade
of sunburn, white and bottle-tan.
Mothers—ankle deep—hike skirts,

mark toddlers. Candy-striped
windbreakers stake out territory
keeping sand off lubed backs

and lacquered boobs.
Installed on deckchairs, leeward,
women cluck and sizzle,

Sure this is better than Spain,
talk of the best swimsuit
for an even tan, the antics of kids,

husbands, the important things.
My youngest, lithe in triangle
bikini, trawls the littoral zone

for tiny clams in mauves
and peachy pinks, each
with a pinhole

at the apex, perfect for a necklace.
The road tar has melted on the way
back to cars parked in ditches.

Outside the games arcade,
teens eye each other off
as practice material; it could be

Curracloe Beach 1986,
the year we dredged the sea
for our parish priest. Or, for that matter,

Rush Beach 1976, cars
in a prairie-wagon ring,
jelly-fish brandished at terry-

towelled girls and a sun-worshipper,
caught off guard in a cross-
your-heart bra.

The seal has fled to warmer waters,
like my love, who believes all this
was invented by a woman far from home.


(First published in The Blue Nib, editor Denise O’Hagan, February 2020)

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