Poem introduction

Vanishing Points

Vanishing Points: I Beach Huts, Milford, 1930

These are a series of three sonnets which look at different episodes from my family's life. The first begins with a photograph taken at Milford-on-Sea, in the 1930s, where a mother and a father and their two boys are sitting on the beach, and it imagines what happens later in life.

I Beach Huts, Milford, 1930

These are the high-tide mark in this family’s life;
they huddle together, mugging for the Box-Brownie,
basking in the salt-air and sun between two wars,
the lacuna of a first summer down from school:
a barefoot father in tie and starched collar,
a mother’s equine calm, as two boys shy like foals
around her. One will wake each night in later life
to a friend’s screams from inside a burning tank.
One in middle-age, at his mother’s bedside, will wildly shake
a bell for nurse, then drive in silence to collect the priest.
Today as you pose before the row of huts,
in a silence folded between the wave and the wash,
I think of our life together becoming utterly lost,
and lift this camera like a bible for an oath.


from In The Flesh (Chatto & Windus, 2010), © Adam O’Riordan 2010, used by permission of the author.

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Recordings

Adam O'Riordan

Adam O'Riordan Reading from his poems

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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Books by Adam O'Riordan