TURBULENT SACRIFICE

 

Mama was an unmarried mother
at the end of the summer of 75
as Joni hissed of the snakes
in the gardens of complacency
where ignorance was still very much alive.

Mama was only a girl in the growing
and possibly no more than just 18
when she bent down and placed
a kiss on my cheek and whispered
goodbye to her own little green.

Mama is someone who I’ve never met
aside from the dream I once had
of her life in a kingdom that ruled
you could not mother a child unless
at first you were a legitimate wife.

Mama was an unmarried girl one winter
in the arms of a man barely stretched
from a boy, her trust in the throws
that left little to believe in and a pain
that pulled on the strings of goodbye.

Mama was once an unmarried mother
and bursting with thoughts her shape
couldn’t hide, but helpless and hopeless
were not part of her form and so she did
what she could when you can’t be the bride.

Mama was a childless woman
when winter that year came cold with its calling,

and the tears started breaking
and the leaves began falling

like the water that had broken,
like the hold that had not held,
like the hope that was drowned,
and the hand that was expelled…

too short, too quick, too hard,
too much to let go for good

and the snakes started hissing on the lawns.

Mamma was the unmarried mother
who gave me the greatest gift
that anyone could, of growing up
knowing that what she had done
was to give me up for a greater good.

     

All words and photographs by Damien B. Donnelly

This is a repost form my Joni Mitchell series.

Last month I added my name to the National Adoption Contact Preference Register in Ireland. Maybe the story still has a tale to be told, time will tell…

Sometimes knowing where you came from gives you an idea of where to go. This coming December, after 23 years living abroad, I will move to Ireland to start a whole new adventure in my home country that now feels like an exciting new land waiting to be discovered. I am looking back, at the moment, but seeing in that vision, only where the future will take me. Thanks to you all for listening on along the way,

Love Dami xx

SHADOW AND LIGHT

At 22,
I knew as much of myself
As the exotic world
I’d just found
With streets willing me
To walk them
Witness them
And be wooed by them.
My twenties
Had typically emerged
As a decade to be a no one;
An empty slate to be carved upon
Before my thirties would find me
And shout me with substance.

I’d lost parents
Before knowing them; given up
In a sacrifice of selflessness
Almost incomprehensible
And found
In the arms of another mother
A love that would prove
Incontestable.

I searched,
During infantile years,
Amid childish ego
And innocence,
For connections
To those around me;
The mother
Loved so unequivocally
And the father
Aged in aggression,
With a gap too great to bridge
And so I turned to walk
Shadowy miles of roads in my head,
Clumsily cramming teenage years
With classically confusing
Childish dribble,
Trying to sound like a grown-up
In size 6 shoes,
Feeling different,
Unknown,
And, more often than not,
Undiscovered.

Finally,
I braved knocks on dark doors-
Frequented bars in back lanes
And alley ways,
Away from the eyes of the pious
Whose ignorance
Bullied the boys
With different desires.
I kissed
My first boy
At 18
Behind a sofa
As excited as a child
On Christmas morning,
Finding courage
Behind shades and acceptance
In a community I had become
No longer
Soul member of.

Cuddling and kissing progressed,
Over time, to sweaty,
Fumbling, amateur athletics
Behind the lights
Replacing shame and catholic guilt
With newfound feelings of freedom
As I began
To notch my way
Onto bedposts
Of various conquests.

Between courtings
I often cried
For lovers in whose arms
I should never have laid
And wondered why I ran
From others in whose embrace
I should have stayed,
All but memories
Patterned into the tissue
Of my sleeve-worn,
Still learning, heart,
Cherished moments
That wished to be relived
Along with others
That longed for time to fade.

I had assumed these
To be bruises
As I fell upon these new
Foreign streets
But have recognised them since
To be no more than lifelines,
Imprints, echoes merely of
Shadow and light.

They were all
Important diversions
Along the road,
Pivotal points
Goading me
Into this very direction.
Some of them
Fell away by your banks
And others settled in,
Ingrained themselves like streets
That mapped themselves
Out in front of me
And gradually,
Over time,
Carved their way
Indelibly
Inside of me.

IMG_3164

The Judgment of the Shadows

Did we smile at each other,

At least, at all,

Before the bond broke

That day, that morning,

After the dawn rose

In all its innocence,

Imperceptive

Of how it would part us,

Ignorant of the virtue you’d lost

And the sadness it would cost.

 

 

And did you feel the judgment of the shadows?

 

 

Did I know you at all,

That day, at least, back then,

In the thin thread of time

That we borrowed briefly,

In that deceiving dawn

That polluted the promise

Of the morning’s light

As so-called Elders

Counted constantly

The limited hold we had

Over each other,

Over the past, on the pain-

You- bleeding fresh in convent bed,

And I; still too ignorant to the wounds of this world

And the life we could have had.

 

And did you notice how they judged in the shadows?

 

I wonder, if in your crying-

And I’m sure that you cried-

Did your tears caress my face,

In all that wasteful

Wailing and wrenching,

Baby was born

And little girl grown,

Did the pain erupt

And submerge us-

Did the situation swallow us in,

Stirring the sorrows of a too-soon mother

In the birth of a so-called sin.

 

And did we hear those judging in the shadows?

 

Did you ache afterwards-

Alone, without me,

After the morning crippled all connection,

Did you ache all alone-

In that room without me

After your sacrifice that saved me,

Do you understand the gift that you gave me-

Your body that housed me,

Month after month,

Amid the swelling and stares,

The Jeering and sneers.

 

While all the world judged you from the shadows.

 

Did it change you, at all,

That day, that time

In that place

Of penance and prayers,

In that sacrificial suffering,

In that final goodbye,

In that giving up,

In that letting go-

In the loss that followed too quickly

From our very first hello.

Do you feel me still,

At all, after all, On holidays and birthdays,

When babies cry and mothers run

Do you wonder that happened

To your little baby son?

Do you remember us today

Right now, as we were

So long since our separation,

So deep in separate lives,

In ignorant oblivion

And an opposite direction

Since the hands of this world pulled us apart,

Since the judgment of the world forced us apart

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