Drop in – Damien B. Donnelly

This is the first in a planned series of ‘drop-ins’: opportunities to meet the poets whose collections will be reviewed in subsequent posts. I have some wonderful poets lined up and hope you’ll enjoy their reflections on their writing. They have been asked to choose a poem and reflect upon its conception.

The first of our poets is the wonderful Irish writer, Damien B. Donnelly.

Grains of Sand Beneath Cerulean Skies

Faith is fragile,
courage is not always conclusive,
we don’t command the waves
or comprehend the clouds.
 
I tell you this sand will be swept
into the sea by nightfall,
this baying breath of cyan
beneath the stretch of those cerulean skies.
 
This smooth, salt-licked land
was forged from fire before you were born,
when vultures had feathers
instead of hands and knives,
when volcanos were all there was to fear.
 
Faith is fragile,
we can’t see what once was
or what will come to be,
we lie somewhere below the caelum
searching for security on a spot of shore
before the tides return and we,
in turn, become grains of sand
that some being will one day look upon
and try to see what is no longer there.
 
It is ours to be the basalt
or to be something better.
 

Jeju Island in South Korea, the summer of 2018, we caught the most wonderful sunset ever on our 1st night there and then climbed, at 4am the following morning, an extinct volcano to watch the sun rise, barely awake ourselves, but the clouds were stronger than the dawn and only a shadow of the sun rose to meet our cameras and the echo of our rumbling tummies coming from our yawning mouths. We cannot control everything.

The day before we’d walked along white sand, finer than stardust, contrasted by the thick blackness of the volcanic island’s basalt rock while I stared out into the cerulean sea and up into the cerulean sky, unable to make any distinction between the two, as if the horizon had disappeared, as if this was the meeting point between heaven and earth. I remember thinking, at the time, how much time had passed since these rocks ran so much faster than the slow waves that tickled my toes, I remember feeling weighted, even under those slow waves, as if I was carrying too much for both of us and the sand was too delicate to keep us afloat. Faith.

I remember thinking how clear things must’ve been before, before our footsteps and fancies and fears, when it was just sea and sky, fire and ice, things living and things dying, when danger was as clear as molten lava burning through its path and not a slow choking of cramped concerns that slipped into your bed at night in between the kisses and caresses.

I remember thinking about how much we had to worry about, how much we worried about who we were and what others saw in us and what others thought about us while time ticked and tides came in closer and how our footprints would soon be gone and I wondered what it was that we would leave behind, next to the rock.

To find out more about Damien and his poetry, click here and return next week to read my review of his soon-to-be-published collection Eat the Storms.

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