I flew back to a day
no longer this day,
returning to the rubble
I had run from
to catch the last slab
being laid upon my childhood
buried under a concrete garden,
not even a root to latch on to.

I saw the permanence
of the pavement
pour over the past
no longer possible
from the next-door vantage point,
access no longer available
to my own old room
with its red walls and worries
for the former local
now unfamiliar foreigner
with footing bound
to a fondness to regress
but reality is no longer
the daydream we used to skip through
under the glorious sunlight
of the innocence
that blinded our youth.

Dreams are sometimes
rotten weeds to return to
after the dawn breaks
through the haze that once held hope,
our once great grounding
is not always as we left it.
We cannot fit into the clothes we once wore
nor the skin we since shed.

I saw my childhood today,
buried beneath the cold concrete;
the final closure on the kingdom
I thought I was the prince of.

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly



    • Went back to Dublin last weekend and visited my childhood next door neighbors ( who are basically family ) and watched from their bedroom window as my old garden was covered in concrete. Was so strange to look out onto what was once so familiar, so much a part of me and see it disappear. I guess living away, and certainly abroad, you have a certain feeling that everything stays as you left it. I dreamt so many lives while growing up in that house, in that bedroom, looking out that window onto the garden, wondering what you take root, what would fall away and then, last weekend, I found myself on the other side of those dreams.

      • No, my parents split when I was 18, I moved into a flat in town and Mum now lives in what was her mother’s cottage in Lusk, in north county dublin. But for 18 years we lived on this street, my parents there for over 25 years and it really was one of those streets you see in the movies where every neighbor was family, we lived in each other’s homes, street parties, a real community that doesn’t really exist anymore, friendships that will outlast the houses themselves. New Year’s Eve was always celebrated out in the street with every singing and guitars and accordions and so much love. Amid all this I was trying to find my way, my place, coming to terms with and understanding my sexuality, my identity.

      • That is so sad. I’ve never been able to go back to the house I lived in until I was eighteen. My parents moved and as it was in an out of the way place, never had a reason to go back. The neighbour’s weren’t friendly and nothing like your street, but the house was a haven, a cocoon for us kids. I’d hate to see the mess a new owner will have made. My mum put her heart into that garden.

      • Oh, sometimes it is so hard to go back, we never know what we may find. The dream of how it will be versus the reality. I understand what you mean about the cocoon, my room was my cocoon, my walls of security in a time of uncertainty. There was so much love and yet so much fear of what lay beyond the street at the same time. If the garden still blooms in your heart than your mother will still tend to it there, my dear 😘🤗💐

      • I wonder if we all have the same feelings, as adolescents. I know I had that fear of not being able to do what was expected. Girls were torn between growing up as they wanted and being pushed into the conformity of smelly spotty boyfriends and doing exactly what their grubby eager little minds wanted. My parents made a haven for us, surrounded by unsmiling Protestants. It was beautiful. I hope you rescued your mother’s tweety pie.

  1. I enjoyed reading the comments between you and Jane. I wonder what would have happened if you stayed there? Are you still friends with people in the neighborhood? It sounds like you were so fortunate to have that close community when you were trying to find your way, and that you felt so much love.

    • Oh yes, they are all still family. Mum still works in the same school (now over 35 years in the same job and at 78 she is still not ready to stop) which is close to where I grew up so she sees everyone regularly and I get to see them a few times a year when I go home, otherwise Facebook keeps us all informed. Those early days are precious memories that are, at times, picture postcard perfect. I was very lucky.
      Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Merril with all your family 😘🤗

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