IN MOTHER’S GARDEN

 

Mother,
the path has been puzzling and there are patterns now,
penetrating patterns once thought impossible, entwined
around veins, like vines that vie for vittles’ on walls
already wavering, on buildings bare as if each brick
banished is a breath broken,
Mother,
I carry more now than before but fragments have flown,
not yet cremated but I’ve scattered ashes over mischievous
maestros who tussled tarnished tunes along my tissue,
who cut cords, crude and often crippling, who leeched
the lyrics from my limbs when I thought a relationship
meant relenting to the rhythm, when I thought love
was a note never ending,
Mother,
we’ve seen how sacrifice can separate mother
from her making, little girl blue you had to give up
and woman who had let me go, the root cut from rose,
adapting far from the garden of creation, but we adapted
to adoption as if it wasn’t an option, as it wasn’t a question,
for there was always a connection,
Mother,
I see you with the bud of your womb now returned to you
as woman, your vines reattaching as nature intended
while I rarely regard the roots of my own becoming,
still too busy looking up and over, looking always
for the next interchange, questioning every other connection
in a garden scattered with those ashes, the bush burning
as the blossom still blooms,
but Mother,
I’m more you than the woman who made me, I am
more product of the carer than sewer of the seed who
so long ago saw the sacrifice in her own soil
and replanted my life in your warm embrace,
Mother,
I’ve seen stars setting fires to skies in other lands
where other oceans wash over other sands, stars
that still fade, though they are far, sands that still sweep
into all-consuming currents while populations ponder
the same problems as stars flicker out and time slips
through our hands,
Mother,
I’ve seen money makers in plastic palaces following
white lines to narcotic nirvanas as if salvation
was snortable, I’ve seen wiser men, on the sojourn, in India,
blind to all light, perhaps shielded from the fight,
holding tight to a smile that has slipped from our grip
with eyes still able to trap the light, with hearts too hungry
for more of more of more, polluting once stubborn seas
as we rape other roads, take other fruit from other gardens,
while blind men begged for nothing and saw more
than I could ever imagine,
Mother,
the days are now shorter and even before night
falls there is less light that falls and people are crying
in the streets, the flowers are folding and retreating into
the dirt as if hell might be better, Mama, people are dying,
dying in discos and in diners and in school halls
where they should be learning to be better, not leaving blood
behind on broken desks and chalkboards with equations
that don’t add up because the book has been swapped
for the bomb,
Mama,
there are horrors happening now, not yearly, but daily,
one chaos no longer fills one book, but one chapter,
followed by another and another with no let up, no
intermission, our gardens becoming desert landscapes
as all that tries to exist is destroyed, as all that was once
deemed right is declared wrong, as all rights are removed
and all races viewed as radicals,
Mother,
they’ve mistaken the mask for the man and they can’t see
though those smiles I’ve staged to still the shadows that line
these lines, these lives played out upon my breaking breast,
pouring like riverbeds raging over banks, over blank pages,
drowning them with tales, twists and turns, loves and losses
that have taken up home below shivering skin,
mostly uninvited, like wild flowers in the garden, like weeds
we mistake to be worthy of their place till the thorns bear
their treachery,
but Mother,
amid the mayhem there are moments magic, there are babies
being heard with first breaths beating, there are skies
singing of the sunrise, there are still sunsets still sweeping
shores where lovers still linger, long after the first kiss,
there are words whispered on winds, glorious hymns
of hope and heroes and there is art, still filling walls
with light and life, there is music and there is, as always,
your smile
Mother,
life is a series of spirals, not just circles, for it elevates
on the turn, not just levitates, for I am back, again,
at the beginning, but frail are the things once thought
familiar in this once foreign land I fled and feared
never to return, in this land where nothing changes
while everything moves and the shadows I once knew
have up and vanished and grass is growing where once
there was concrete and concrete has crushed all
that was once green and grand and 40 is not as adventurous
as 20 but the questions still remain unanswered
so there is no turning back because, as I said,
the vines have entangled themselves around me,
in this garden I’ve grazed in, from a distance, for so long,
pulling across my chest, either aching or yearning,
they are drawing me down, down towards the ground,
down, at last, to regard the roots of where it all began,
so long ago, when I first dared to ask;

Mother,
Will we ever have all the answers?

All words by Damien B Donnelly

Main Photograph of Mum and I in her garden back in 22 July 2002 on her birthday.

ADA2EA65-BC8A-4681-AB0A-D9C9C7DDB242.jpg

And today, 22nd July 2019, still filling our garden with joy…

Happy Birthday Mum, Love Always

GOLD TAINTED GRASSES

 

Corners come crawling from the fine folds
of memory when the lavender was long
with laughter beyond the bridge
where the lazy water twisted her sky’s blues
through rough rock and tufts of gold tainted
grasses that I captured on canvas
and you kept in glass cases crowded
with curated curiosities and empty wine bottles.
We were in your Queen’s country; Balmoral
and all her bounty without a breath
of any Brexit. They had a tin can
of baked beans in her local store
and a couple of packets of butter biscuits
in a coating of plastic tartan and I wondered
who had the midnight nibbles
after the summer’s sun had settled
over the north that so wanted to snap
from the south. We’d sat in a church
with the Ma’am herself and all the family,
a tiny little thing (both monument
and monarch) cut into ragged rock
on the turn of a heather hewn hill, clinging
to its own existence like the family
and the faith and the kingdom. Later,
we gathered with giggles in a glen
as little Miss Sydney crippled us
with comedy and the Ling heathers
bloomed in the buoyancy of her laughter,
a daughter of the Commonwealth
now no longer common. All things come
and go, like the scent of cut lavender,
culled and so peacefully plain, its colour
now lighter, now longer able to be amethyst.
Memory too folds and fades like the colour
of each encounter, like the bloom and
the border, the lavender and the laughter,
the freedom and the procession, the family
and the faith, the country and the conqueror,
like all entrances and all their unexpected exits.

   

All words and water colour by Damien B. Donnelly

21st poem for National Poetry Writing Month

THE ECHO OF HIS LAUGHTER

 

He sits
on a bench
on my street
as the cars pass by
and the leaves fall down

in autumn.

He sits
with a girl
on the edge
of his childhood
curiously considering

adulthood.

She talks
and he laughs
and in his laughter
you hear his age, on his face
you see his blush and in his voice;

his innocence.

He hasn’t
yet realised
all the power
of her attractions
but her voice is beguiling
and her face and her smile,
and that dream of what she might

give him.

A life
in bloom
on a street
on the bench
as cars pass by
and leaves fall down
and their laughter is the

only sound.

The bench
will eventually
outlive his innocence
but his laughter will linger
on in the lines on this page, in
the echo of his laughter, his echo,

ever-after.

MOTHERS CHILD

We are carved and we are cared for,
Cuddled and coddled all our lives,
But we are, will always remain
A mother’s creation, the love
And labour of the hands
That first held us.

I see you
In me, in the minutes so simple,
In the moments so precious,
Sometimes so predictable,
Other times obscure.

I see you
In me, all your lessons listened to,
Learnt from, lived out, a part
Of me now, a part
Of who I am.

I see you
In me, in my ever evolving hands,
Fumbling along their lines of life
But I see your caress steering,
Guiding me on as I
Clutch, climb,
Create.

I see myself
In you, in your eyes, reflecting all
My passion and your pride
Of this gift you gave me,
This life, its laughter
And its love.

I see you,
Ignoring the separating distances,
The forceful waters that flood
Their way around us
But have failed so
In their attempt
To divide us.

I see you
Today, in that jumble of geography,
Challenging the mountains high
And the tides returning,
Unbreakable.

I see you
The light and magic, the mother
Miraculous, a million others
All waiting, wanting, trying,
A million babies, needing,
And still we found
Each other.

I see you
Right before me, yesterday, today
Carefully tidying up memories,
Gently tossing away tears,
Happy in what we had,
Forever soothing
My fears.

I see you,
Smiling. I see you, living, learning.
I see you in heels and happiness,
I have watched you forgiving
And forgetting. I see you
Laughing and loving.
I see you.

I see you
And through you I can see myself
And smile at all we’ve created,
Laugh at the joy we shared,
Wait with the breath held
For all that’s still
Yet to come.

I see you
Now, see the twinkle in your eyes
And I smile at the strength
You taught me.

I see you,
Like this,
Always.

IMG_4487

In Absence

In your absence

It’s not that there’s less

Laughter to life,

There’s not less love

Or even less light,

Not all comfort is lost

Or all joking discarded,

Not all happiness hushed

Or all joy deserted.

 

It’s not that I’m saying

The sun won’t rise,

That darkness descends

And sorrow arrives,

I won’t pretend

That all color has faded-

That we have been robbed,

Ransacked and raided.

 

But your laughter’s now missing

And your goodness extinguished-

Your connection to me now

Has been truly relinquished,

I’ll remember you always

As the gentlest host,

Not the tallest of men

But of heart- you had most.

 

It’s so long since I’ve seen you

But I’ll never forget

The kindness you showed me

That will long outlive death,

You were funny and folly,

Caring and kind,

A gent of distinction,

And wickedly refined.

ED

Candy Floss

I am falling
All around you,
Not sure
Who is more senior
Or sensible.
I thought you needed
To be cradled
In arms
But found it to be
I who was held-
Your fingers running through my hair,
Your breath against my neck,
Your body wrapped around me
And somehow
I am comforted
In this touch-
Too unsure of what it is,
Too young to hold on to.

Yet how could it ever be different;
You are only now learning
What I have known so long,
You are only just tasting
What I have already named.
You are the bountiful
Blossoming
Of youth in all its
Glorious ignorance-
You are all that I once
Put to rest
And yet,
It surprises me, aches me,
At how frequently
I try to shout you more aware,
But I listened not then
Just as you should not now!

I am falling
Foolishly
All around you,
Texting tirelessly
While thoughtlessly
Disregarding the time that divides us
And ignoring how difficult it will be
In time
To separate us.
Perhaps you are
My delightful distraction
In this time of transformation;
My folly
Of frivolous foolishness
Amid
All that is so seemingly
Balanced and structured.
The chaos to calm
My compulsion
To control it all.

You are the whimsical
Carefree laughter,
The kiss of sunshine in the morning-
Deliciously silly and sweet,
The candy floss at the fairground-
Spun purely of sugar and air,
Too tempting not to taste,
Too insubstantial to last for long.

candyfloss