Mama was an unmarried mother
at the end of the summer of 75
as Joni hissed of the snakes
in the gardens of complacency
where ignorance was still very much alive.
Mama was only a girl in the growing
and possibly no more than just 18
when she bent down and placed
a kiss on my cheek and whispered
goodbye to her own little green.
Mama is someone who I’ve never met
aside from the dream I once had
of her life in a kingdom that ruled
you could not mother a child unless
at first you were a legitimate wife.
Mama was an unmarried girl one winter
in the arms of a man barely stretched
from a boy, her trust in the throws
that left little to believe in and a pain
that pulled on the strings of goodbye.
Mama was once an unmarried mother
and bursting with thoughts her shape
couldn’t hide, but helpless and hopeless
were not part of her form and so she did
what she could when you can’t be the bride.
Mama was a childless woman
when winter that year came cold with its calling,
and the tears started breaking
and the leaves began falling
like the water that had broken,
like the hold that had not held,
like the hope that was drowned,
and the hand that was expelled…
too short, too quick, too hard
too much to let go for good
and the snakes started hissing on the lawns.
Mamma was the unmarried mother
who gave me the greatest gift
that anyone could, of growing up
knowing that what she had done
was to give me up for a greater good.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly
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