I love and lose in circles, scratching
at skin tipped in ink, trying to find
the truth beneath the colours
I’ve let others colour in, hiding
the paler flesh I held from view,
we always need to hold on to something.
I am not comfortable over quiet dinners;
too much stilled air coursing
through the courses as I question
the seconds ticking by, in silence;
will you find me failure and flee?
But I’ll always be the first to fly
since that first flight I had no hand in.
I stir the stilled air with performances;
shy boy in the spotlight singing songs
he can’t quite find the notes for
or find the right to call his own.
I love and lie in circles that spiral
back on themselves, that cast further
reflections, not quite clear, on the boy
now faced as man in the mirror,
that flood more ink into that fading flesh.
‘Chromolume No. 9, Georges?’ she asked,
once, in a play, how many more?
Variations grow stale, thought becomes
tension, creation becomes controlled,
breath becomes bearer, bleaker. My chest
beats too quickly to let in fresh air,
fresh flesh, compressed, repressed.
I cannot lie in these circles,
these spirals that seem to linger,
longer, no longer. I am looking
to find a new shape; turning back,
returning, recalling that first mark,
to measure how far from it I ran,
to see what was left behind,
to lay it to rest and find the rest,
the rest of me beneath the red ink
tipped into this fragile flesh.
All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly
18th poem for National Poetry Writing Month