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Previously published in Fire No. 24, 2004

ISSN:1367 031X and What Moves Moves

Shoestring Press, 2004. ISBN: 1 904886 05 1

 

The Bicycle Garden

 

                                for Alix Sharkey

        

        The graves of children who go missing

        are abandoned bicycles set in concrete

        bases lowered into shallow trenches

        by the railway bridge and left to rust.

        The engineer (retired) who tends

        the place says visitors are few—

        he imagines parents driving slowly by

        or peering through the wire-mesh fence

        for a particular shade of paint or rake

        of handlebar, but they don’t come in.

 

        And there it was, this gaunt tableau

        of BMXs, racers, mountain bikes,

        an aged Vespa with its fairing crushed,

        and tricycles with tassels tied to handlegrips

        or crossbars, where they stayed, seeming,

        to those who looked, to rise up from the ground

        or sink into it. You turn away—

 

        because there’s no such garden, though

        the bicycles are often all that’s found.

        An end-page columnist invented it,

        when it seemed to him society

        was waging war on being young,

        on children who enticed and let you

        down. So he dreamed a garden for them,

        and the engineer was somehow odd

        enough to make the whole thing real,

        a sleight that left its maker lying

        with the silence in his ears, as if

        some violence had been done.

 

Paul McLoughlin

 

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Library Archive
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Munster Literature Centre
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and in the shop ...
collections -
"Forgetting to Come In",
Shoestring Press;

"What Certainty is Like", Smith/Doorstop


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