A Double Wash Stand, by Adam O’Riordan

30 September 2014

Before the age condemned such joint ablutions
you dip your hands in the tepid water
as the geese come in low across the lake
landing on their shadows, becoming their wake,
breaking apart the imago they seemed to chase.
So you break this tension, shattering your own reflections.
There is a complicity in getting clean together
who knows what distances you travelled in your sleep,
drawn back towards one another,
and the secrets that those distances will keep.
Each movement fluid and practised in the winter air,
you revel in this intimate act, not quite each other’s double.
You mime the mannerisms of others lives
like brother and sister; I mean, man and wife.


This is another poem from O’Riordan’s series ‘Home’ – see ‘Candle Moulds’ below. The subject is still a well-known item in Belgium, adding to the desirability of any property. This makes the first line stand out strangely to me – an interesting example of how every poem starts with its own preconceptions.

[Read in In the Flesh, published by Chatto Poetry.]


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