the path
has been puzzling
and there are patterns
now, penetrating patterns
once thought impossible, entwined
around veins, like vines that vie for vittles
on walls already wavering, on buildings bare
as if each brick banished is a breath
I carry more
now than before
but fragments have flown,
not yet cremated but I’ve scattered
ashes over mischievous maestros who tussled
tarnished tunes along my tissue, who cut cords, crude
and often crippling, who leeched the lyrics from my limbs
when I thought a relationship meant relenting to the rhythm,
when I thought love was a note
never ending,
we’ve seen
how sacrifice
can separate mother
from her making, little girl
blue you had to give up and woman
who had let me go, the root cut from rose,
adapting far from the garden of creation, but we
adapted to adoption as if it wasn’t an option, as it wasn’t
a question, for there was always
a connection,
I see you
with the bud
of your womb now
returned to you as woman,
your vines reattaching as nature
intended while I rarely regard the roots
of my own becoming, still too busy looking
up and over, looking always for the next interchange
and questioning every other connection in a garden scattered
with those ashes, the bush burning
as the blossom still blooms,
but Mother,
I’m more you
than the woman
who made me, I am
more product of the carer
than sewer of the seed who
so long ago saw the sacrifice
in her own soil and replanted my life
in your warm embrace,
I’ve seen stars
setting fires to skies
in other lands where other
oceans wash over other sands,
stars that still fade, though they are far,
sands that still sweep into all consuming currents
while populations ponder the same problems as stars
flicker out and time slips
through our hands,
I’ve seen money
makers in plastic palaces
following white lines to narcotic
nirvanas as if salvation was snortable,
I’ve seen wiser men, on the sojourn, in India,
blind to all light, perhaps shielded from the fight,
holding tight to a smile that has slipped from our grip
with eyes still able to trap the light, with hearts too hungry
for more of more of more, polluting once stubborn seas as we
rape other roads, take other fruit from other gardens, while blind men
begged for nothing and saw more than I could
ever imagine,
the days
are now shorter
and even before night
falls there is less light that falls
and people are crying in the streets,
the flowers are folding and retreating into
the dirt as if hell might be better, Mama, people
are dying in discos and in diners and in school halls
where they should be learning to be better, not leaving blood
behind on broken desks and chalkboards with equations that don’t add up
because the book has been swapped
for the bomb,
there are
horrors happening
now, not yearly, but daily,
one chaos no longer fills one
book, but one chapter, followed by
another and another with no let up, no
intermission, our gardens becoming desert
landscapes as all that tries to exist is destroyed,
as all that was once deemed right is declared wrong,
as all rights are removed and all races viewed
as radicals,
they’ve mistaken
the mask for the man
and they can’t see though
those smiles I’ve staged to still
the shadows that line these lines,
these lives played out upon my breaking
breast, pouring like riverbeds raging over banks,
over blank pages, drowning them with tales, twists
and turns, loves and losses that have taken up home
below the shivering skin, mostly uninvited, like wild flowers
in the garden, like weeds we mistake to be worthy of their place
till the thorns bear
their treachery,
but Mother,
amid the mayhem
there are moments magic,
there are babies being heard
with first breaths beating, there are skies
singing of the sunrise, there are still sunsets
still sweeping shores where lovers still linger, long
after the first kiss, there are words whispered on winds,
glorious hymns of hope and heroes and there is art, still
filling walls with light and life, there is music
and there is, as always,
your smile
life is a series
of spirals, not just circles,
for it elevates on the turn, not
just levitates, for I am back, again,
at the beginning, but frail are the things
once thought familiar in this once foreign land
I fled and feared never to return, in this land where
nothing changes while everything moves and the shadows
I once knew have up and vanished and grass is growing where
once there was concrete and concrete has crushed all that was once
green and grand and 40 is not as adventurous as 20 but the questions
still remain unanswered so there is no turning back because, as I said, the vines
have entangled themselves around me, in this garden I’ve grazed in, from a distance,
for so long, pulling across my chest, either aching or yearning, they are drawing me down,
down towards the ground, down, at last, to regard the roots of where it all began,
so long ago, when I first dared to ask;

Will we ever have all the answers?

All words and drawings by Damien B. Donnelly

Self portrait at 19 in the Botanical gardens, Dublin

Audio version available on Soundcloud:



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