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

Microbiologist, brewer, writer, fan of James Joyce, guitar player and gardener, U. Cronin was born in the county town of Ennis, Co. Clare. He's spent much of his adult years moving country — between Spain and Ireland — and at present he is to be found back in his native town. Author of five novels and working on a sixth, U. is back in the lab and engaging his passion for looking for bugs using very bright lasers. Let's hope it turns out well!
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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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