Postcard from Dún Laoghaire’s West Pier

by | April 3, 2023

A fat seal drags itself up the harbour
To gnaw on fishbones. In my dreams jaws clamp
Round my skull, bring brittle bits of me back
Down towards the seaweed, sludge and slime.
I see it as I feel it.

Troops expected France but spilled out of ships
Here, at what was then Kingstown,
To find a revolution baked in blood
And prayers, conducted from a biscuit factory
On the periphery of an empire.

I could write you a masterpiece in the sand,
See it brought to death with sea-blood –
Blue and watery and whole, if only
For that instant. I turn over the vowels
Like shells, sound them like a promise.

I think of the perverse play of love
Printed between the bespectacled man and the woman,
Sent to glimmering Trieste from a ramshackle
Cottage where God gazed from the mantlepiece,
And the stamp that stood sentinel to it all.

The tendrils of an afternoon wasted
Wrap around my wrist, threaten to pull me
Out with the tide. I am kept on grey rock
By salt air and your palm, warm in mine, and
The quiet intimacy of that Sunday.∎


Words by Philippa Conlon. Art by Poppy Williams.