Bicycling on San Roque

Sweet sunflower smell,

Heavy heads hanging,

Soon-for-saving seeds,

Pulling their gazes from the sun.

I beat into the breeze on a battered BMX,

As creaky and bone-rattled as its rugged rider.

It hops me along on rutted roads, the rocky dirt tracks that plough through this Euclidean quarter of Castile.

Any minor blemish can be seen for miles in this slate-flat land: the ridge upon which sits Villalba, with its huddled-together houses and, of course, the church.

Today is San Roque.

Sunday morning missal will talk of plague and the blessing that is health.

My daughters are within, unbaptized but heads bowed and faces as full of sunshine as the flowers I pass.

Tonight there will be bonfires in honour of the saint,

And a pagan warding-off of unvanquishable maladies.

Snatches of song are carried to me from the church and I stop my pedalling in the vain hope of catching my girls’ fragrant chant.

A pagan on the road, grasping at understanding; unbelieving and over-thinking the symbols of bell and fire and song.


About ucronin

Born in the country town of Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland in 1975, I now live in Madrid with my partner and two young daughters and work in a research institute. While I was always a hungry reader and harboured vague notions of being a writer, as a young man writing was the furthest thing from my mind; after leaving school, I did a B.Sc. in Biotechnology in Galway's NUI, an M.Sc. in Plant Science in University College Cork and a Ph.D. in Microbiology in the University of Limerick, the plan being to dedicate my professional career to scientific research. While having written extensively within my technical scientific field, I had never contemplated becoming a writer of fiction until a road-to-Damascus moment on the N69 between Listowel and Tarbert, Co. Kerry in the summer of 2011. Since then, most of my spare time has been occupied with writing. In whatever other free moments I have, I like to listen to music, play the guitar and garden (which here in Madrid means a lot of watering of plants and spraying for red spider mite). My ambition is to become as good a writer as I possibly can, eventually freeing myself from the cold clutches of science and earning a living through my scribblings. The type of writing that excites me is honest, intelligent, well-constructed and richly descriptive.
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3 Responses to Bicycling on San Roque

  1. thefeatheredsleep says:


  2. Mary says:

    A lovely way to start my week – thanks. No matter what those-in-the-know might say, I’m quite partial to a little alliteration.

    • ucronin says:

      Many thanks. This poem just “mugged”me (as I heard Dermot Bolger say) while I was out for a cycle. All that pedalling must bring on the alliteration!

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