Corton Beach Holiday Camp, Great Yarmouth

by Marilyn Francis
The Write Idea
First Place, July 2017
Judged by Tim Mayo

Cycling clubs were popular then.
That’s where they met, two single cyclists,
soon to be tandem, one behind the other
like a pantomime horse in mufti.

The faded photo shows the three of us
side-by-side on a bicycle made for two.
My dad smiling at the photographer
me in the middle, keeping them apart.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this poem succeeds in its economy of words to describe and suggest the underlying and changing relationships between two lovers who go on to have a child. The first stanza introduces the romance of this couple and sets the reader up for the deft second stanza surprise with the physical interjection of the speaker between the couple. Certainly the bicycle-for- two romance is over, but, as readers, we are left with the resulting family unit and left to decide the ambiguity of the jarring dissonance the poet suggests in the last line. On first reading of the second stanza, the parents seem to have become divided by the child/speaker . . . or we could read it that it is the speaker who acts as a referee in the middle of two battling parents? Either way the ambiguity is masterful in its sadness. --Tim Mayo