Lost somewhere in love’s language
Between bonjour and au revoir.
How is it I have strayed so far
From what was once so important?
I have travelled land and sea
But with each step
A part of you approaches from the past,
Present and possible future
To remind me of your existence,
To recall how much of you
Is rooted deep within me
And to confirm how much of me
I left behind in you in that time we had
And shared and made;
On your banks, along your cobbled streets,
Within your bars, on the lips of your men
Whom I kissed and your ladies who I danced with
And behind that grey door
And up along that wide wooden staircase
Which spiralled its way to my first home
Nestled in the oldest part of you.
It was here where Joni Mitchell
Rang out in my ears for the first time
Through the angelic tones of the blonde creature
Who lulled me from laughter to chaos
On that old templed street-
A stones throw from my first hotel,
The scene of my first French kiss,
Tucked away behind my favoured park,
Resting under the watchful ghost of Picasso
Where I would soon burn to a crisp
As summer’s sun found Irish skin to roast on.
How we laughed in that living room
With its viewless windows
Letting in only the bare minimum of light
As my musical Nymph rehearsed
Endless Irish dirges that would pay the rent
While the spritely hippy
That hid beneath her voluptuous body,
In green velveteen bell-bottoms
And tasseled honeyed hair,
Begged her to let loose, break free and fly like a bird.
I remember that morning as spring arrived
And I opened the windows to find warm air
Perched on our sills before I read her
My first French penned poem;
The Traveler Lost;
A young man drowns amid foreigners
Without words to express himself.
She laughed till her eyes brimmed with tears
And I, almost unable to finish,
Sobbed in a likewise comic and uncontrollable state,
Indulging in the unconsciously humorous overkill
Of the self-indulgent prose of a 22 year old child
Dancing about in grown up shoes.
And yet, in that very fact;
In the acceptance of our naivety and innocence,
We laughed our way, amid childish ignorance,
Through the best of times and dared each other not to care.
And yet now, so far from that very home,
How close its infamous memory
Ventures to mock me
For the distance I have let slip in between.
In all my dreams of traveling and exploring,
How was I to know that my feet would fall
So fast in love with that first touch
Upon your cobbled streets?
I am the sparrow, lost to its nest,
Forever flying in ascending circles
And catching your scent on every other breeze,
Unsure of why it calls me still,
But hopeful to one day be flown home on your courant d’air.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly