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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.

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1Manchester

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2Vanishing Points: I Beach Huts, Milford, 1930

3Vanishing Points: II A Wedding Letter, Edinburgh, 1906

4Vanishing Points: III A Trade Union College, Dumferline, 1983

5NGC3949

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6Goooogle

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7The Whetstone

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8The Moth

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9The Corpse Garden

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10Scar Tissue

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11Blossom

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12The Edges of Love: I A College Window, Cambridge

13The Edges of Love: II A Department Store Escalator, Paris

14Dressing

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15Trawling

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16Manuel Uribe Garza

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17My Father in the Garden

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18Candle Moulds

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19Silver Lake

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20A Double Wash Stand

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21Dun Laoghaire

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22An Apron Pocket

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23Sandy Hook

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24A Hearth Fire

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25Heidelberg

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26A Bedstead

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27Teatralnaya

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28A Dance in the Kitchen

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29Painted Eggs

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30The Leverets

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31Cheat

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32On Fixing a Bloody Mary

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33Oysters

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34Mareotis

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35Portrait of a Copper Beach

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36Portrait of a Barn Owl

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37Revenants

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38Endnote

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39Ring Angels

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40The Act of Falling

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41Cull

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42Pallbearers

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