Picnic at Rush, 1954
All the shiny black cars.
White-walled, steel-spoked wheels.
Orange Bakelite fingers
And chromium everywhere.
I’m going to have one, black and shiny,
Like Uncle John Martin’s,
When I’m a grown-up man.
On the beach we drive to,
When the road turns right
Between the whitewashed walls,
And there’s sand on the road,
And a brackish waft in the air,
The black cars all line up
Like John Martin’s piano sharp keys
On the smooth white strand.
My swimming togs are knitted,
Tight, soaked, harsh and taut,
Chapping my little thighs
As I whimper and whine with the wind.
But who’s to mind me in the panting din
Of big cousins playing relievio
Across the hard grass of the dunes?
[Background: Rush is a seaside resort near Dublin. Relievio is a chasing game where teams of players track and try to capture each other. Children wore hand-knitted, woolen swimsuits in the 1950s, but they were unpleasant to wear because the cold seawater made the wool shrink and tighten, and this hurt the skin.]
Éamon Mag Uidhir is a Dubliner living in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland. He has had poems published of late in The Moth, Crannóg, Revival and Cyphers. He edited Icarus while attending Trinity College during the 1970s. He runs a multilingual online shrine to the sonnet at www.sonnetserver.com