Maurice Devitt




At the Beach
for Anne
One day that summer you disappeared
for hours. As though tired of Sisyphus
and the task of filling a moat, you
wandered off, your pink, polka-dot

swimsuit the perfect camouflage
on a beach that looked like a Pollock
canvas, where every eight-year-old girl
was a walk-on from Spot the Difference.

Reluctantly torn from feats of sand
engineering, we slouched across the strand
in Brownian motion, cutting a path
between towels and orphaned

swimming-rings, cupped our hands
to call your name, only for it
to be muzzled by the crackly sound
of disembodied voices from transistors

perched on the bonnet of every car.
Older striped men in deck-chairs
woke one-eyed from younger dreams,
looked at us with a mix of sympathy

and disdain, then fell asleep.
We scanned the wending dunes,
half expecting an appearance
from Peter O’Toole, but saw nothing,

not even a mirage. We eventually
found you behind a wind-break,
eating a picnic with a family
you didn’t know. When I described

our anxious search you looked surprised,
as though you didn’t even know
you were lost and in the back
of the Volkswagen driving home,

you were unusually quiet, whether
from the telling-off or something
you had been given
that you didn’t want to share.




Maurice Devitt was runner-up in The Interpreter’s House Poetry Competition in 2017. He runs the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and is a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group.

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