You were my friends, you were my childhood, our beds by the riverside,
on the north side of the south, far from the troubles, far from the loyalists
and the loss, loyal to what, I ask?
I see us all now from the far side, from another side, you were always on my side,
even when I wasn’t, sharing treats by the fireside on rainy days after sturdy stews
when even then we were off and running, dreaming in daylight of distance,
of diversions, of dignity, a ship called dignity to sail along our river,
so the deacons in blue sang, taking us away from all that was so simple,
so special, so sincere, our little lives by the riverside on the drives
and the crescents and the groves.
We drowned only our fears in that barely brook by the riverside,
by the Northside, childhood hang ups; being ginger, being tall, being gay,
being small, I remember it all today, flowing in from yesterday,
bobbing along on the bottom of a beautiful steady stream
of memories, madness, moments, mothers.
I remember you all from here, from the other side of the river, on the far side
of the world, from the far side of growing, accepting, they call it, understanding,
surrendering but not forgetting, never forgetting, the pampering and the parties,
the new years with old friends, Dave’s guitars, John’s fireworks
and everyone’s songs; should old acquaintances be forgot, as if they could.
I see you all there still, even those who are no longer here, for me
you will always be there, be smiling, be eternal; barking, bold, brilliant, beloved,
you can never be missing if you’ve always been loved, and the others;
who blossomed, who grew, who married, who flew, some have children now,
grown from being children into children baring children.
We were friends, once, in the endless summers under tents with no pretence,
singing songs on the radio, singing through our little lives, a family of friends
who kicked our cans, as you said, played chasing, played games, played house,
mowed lawns, walked dogs, swapped toys and clothes, care bares and fancy paper,
next to the power station, ‘I love you to the power station and back again’,
wasn’t that what was said, when the power station was the end of the world.
All those fine families and faithful friends carried on now,
like the flow of the water, carried away from that riverside,
carried away to life on the other side, following along the course
but never once forgetting the source.
All Words by Damien B. Donnelly. Photographs from back at the Riverside.