A Double Wash Stand
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 other lives
like brother and sister; I mean, man and wife.
from In The Flesh (Chatto & Windus, 2010), © Adam O’Riordan 2010, used by permission of the author.