I take the boat out on the water,
rowing out to come into the stillness
in this place where space is still displaced.
Chez moi, c’est quoi, c’est où ?
Il est permis de demander ?

Merci, I say, still, when I should just
stay still, like this water where I row out,
stretching limb, exhausted, after the search
that brought me back, to pacify.
Pacifier- je peux le toucher, presque…

but these movements, however measured,
deprive peace from pacify, remove the stillness
from all this space I am, still,
struggling to reach. Mais.

Priver, je ne veux pas, non, non plus.
Je ne regarderai pas mon nombril, pas comme avant.

Moi- I shed who I was, am, along with time
but not breath- I lost breath, once- tu te souviens,
tu étais là, non ? Oui ! Tu ne te souviens pas.

Regarde ce bateau-
hope is a delicate placement of desire upon wish,
of wood upon water.

Je suis le bois, ou non ? C’était toi avant,
Mais tu as été viré. Viré. Fired. Sacked. Sack.

Meanings can give way to so many misunderstandings,
like translations- so much gets lost in the turning,
in the movement, going out and coming in,
with each row

further out. On the water.

Sometimes thought is not what is needed but stillness
within a world that cannot stop.
Arrête. Stop

but that word is too final.


All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

5 thoughts on “PERMISSIBLE TO ASK?

  1. Ms. Liz

    I’ve fond memories of rowing a little boat at various times in my life both in childhood and in adulthood. Sometimes on my own, some times with Nigel as passenger or vice versa. Really favourite memories so I love your poem even if I’ve only taken on board the English but that’s enough. “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream”. Go gently xx

    1. deuxiemepeau

      Go gently indeed. Merrily merrily merrily, life is but a… That was one of my most favoured lullabies as a kid. So slow and serene, like those memories on the water ☘️💙

  2. Mike Powell

    I feel adrift in a dream as you seamlessly shift between English and French, Damien. You seem to lay open your heart more in the French portions, exposing more of the pain, asking deeper questions, holding onto memories, grasping elements of your identify. I am left thinking about one of your final assertions, “Sometimes thought is not what is needed but stillness within a world that cannot stop.” Life moves on and it looks like your boat lacks an anchor.

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