I live now
in various shadows
and only a few whose forms I’d distinguish.
By a round tower
on a little hill
at the far end of a short road
I can read the names of the first ones
who named this place
as a home,
I’ve no faces for these folk
who were whispers even to my own mother,
the mother and father of her father
who is now but a whisper to me.
The bag man he called me
till he passed on when I was 5.
to his bald shiny head
in a dark room with brown walls
and a glass atrium you walked through to get to him.
Now he walks beyond the glass
while I’ve come back to the rooms
that once held his warm voice and soft shuffle
along with his wife, my gran, my nana
with her cardigans
and concern and coppers
for the collections in the church
and later, in the summer-
for outings to the slot machines
where the train comes
to an end at the edge of the sea.
All things have endings, even waves crash.
Nana is now
in the grounds of that church
she gave her coppers to, next to her man,
her Pop, real name Bernard- my middle name.
All things come back
names that we lost
and laughter after loss
and then mothers to their mothers,
like mine did when Dad lost us,
and sons to their mothers,
like I did when Paris said adieu.
Adieu- to God, it means. Funny way to say goodbye.
All things come home, like me now
in this house,
now my mothers,
once home to her mother’s sacred heart
and her father’s devilment,
once the home to my mother’s grandparents
and her brothers and sisters
and the cats and the dogs
and the odd chicken
they kept in the pig-cot that never held a pig
where the boys stored all the pears
they’d pilfered from the orchard.
rhubarb last week
and a sprig of wild spinach
I’d plucked from the edge of the savage sea
in the back garden of this little house
where the shadows watch over us
in various forms
that I’m trying to distinguish.
All words and photos by Damien B Donnelly