You handed me the book and left,
off to another room,
another existence beyond my sight,
(even sight of that moment was selective),
you left me with that book in hand,
hand in hand with that room
where black edged over white,
where comfort was clinical and cradled no clarity
(though I wasn’t looking to be cradled),
that low-lying little room
(where tattered ties lingered in loss)
behind the camouflage of a cobbled courtyard
with its constantly burning candle
whose scent I couldn’t make sense of
(funny how some flames don’t even flinch
when faced with the flicker of fragility)
and a cut-out on the wall, in the corner,
for a door that didn’t exist, a cell-like sliver of space,
within all the space at my disposal,
to hold me hostage as I slipped off
and back to a time I hadn’t released
(and I’d let go of so much that was lighter, lesser, lonelier
since having been let go myself at the offset).

I placed the book down
(along with the weight of its words)
on the simple sofa as you returned
(in saturated shades of grey;
minimum resonance that mimicked movement,
sedentary seemed to be your salvation),
a sleek but sedate sofa I had yet to sit on, be sedated in
(those sessions came later; you in your slate covered silence
on the low-lying chair behind and me; in situ,
on that charcoal sofa, lying,
trying to lay truth on all the lies
I’d crossed and tangled and torn,
trying to stretch out of that small room
and fall back to another, once red, back then,
now fading, right now
like the threads of the sofa; tensed tightly
with the mass of moment and memory
I was manoeuvring through alone
as you sank into your silence
thinking you were a pedagogue of pabulum
while I wondered who would save me.).

But that was a question I had yet to ask.

You sat down that day,
that day of the book and its position between us;
gifted child, grown adult, growing weary
of these wet tales I’d been telling everyone and no one,
for too long, and you; ash dappled with stony surrounds.

I slipped back, as signalled, to the story,
once my story now being shared
and slightly severed from my shadow
(that single story you sensed was sentenced
to an eternity within that red walled room
so far from your white walls
with its crisp corners and black floors
baring only shadows I was supposed to see light in).
But I caught your shiver at the sight upon that sofa,
said book not on the shelf, so out of place
(so out of line with your carefully constructed
compartmentalised components of conditioning),
I saw you fix upon the book
as I whizzed through multiple times,
twisted through the tension
of being someplace else while in situ,
in a taxi with his hand, long ago,
whizzing through new streets
with a trunk of baggage I needed to unload,
in a bathroom crying while he watched
from the cold side of non-concern
(and yet even then I didn’t want to be cradled,
not by a caretaker I couldn’t comprehend
until I did but by then he was already gone),
in bed, within the stillness of those red walls
that comforted and cramped the child
trying to comprehend the form and yet, also,
there I was, on front of your silence, your stare
and sudden your distraction with that book,
now displaced, like we all are
(like I was, or so you might have said had you spoken)
now in situ, on the sofa I had yet to sit on
while I soldiered on alone,
unsure if you were with hearing me,
helping me or hating me
as I turned through my own pages of the jilted journeys,
the mindless miles and the million stars I’d lost hold of
as I reached out for others; bigger, brighter, bolder, better,
then falling, fading, soon to be burnt-out,
felt to be forgotten, but not.

I stopped, in situ, next to the sofa and the book
and noted your distracted attention
to all that was now out of place
(within a space designated
for those lost to their place)
and I wondered if this cell had been built
to sooth the souls who came searching
or to cradle clinically a single stone
who couldn’t spark a brighter colour.

And the patient lost patience with the pretence.

All words by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud


7 thoughts on “THE BOOK BETWEEN US

  1. That’s intense. Thanks for the recording, it offered some clues as to how to interpret the words. Is the book in the image worth a read?

    • It did get rather intense as I was writing it, i didn’t realize that at the offset!
      I’d say yes for the book, it’s interesting, very much a collection of stories from therapy sessions and a comment on who we grow into based on what we experience in the early stages of our life, in brief; if we are too praised as a child then we often miss that as an adult- gifted child grows into adult who needs confirmation. There’s a lot more to it than but I did recognize traits of myself in part of it while still feeling another part of me has been formed or changed due to later experiences.

      • Yep totally relate to that, thanks for explaining. Perhaps it was a release for you to write these words, I hope so anyway.

  2. I agree–this is intense. And it’s dreamlike, too–as when you’re in a dream and things are happening, but you don’t quite understand, and the pieces slip away when you wake.

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