Climbing up Bukhansan Instead of Just Going Around It
I believe you had a headscarf tied around shaved skull when you looked across the low table on that high hill where the Buddha was carved into a cliff that will linger longer than the rest of us. Patterned headscarf perhaps, just above the considered concentration of your hands turning round the lever of a coffee grinder on your knee but honestly, I do not think about your head or its skull or the coloured pattern of your scarf when I remember you here, scrambling my way through the parts of Paris I cannot break down into smaller, more soluble pieces to be able to contain it, like you had contained my gaze, that in turn contained a million questions I’d asked you and you answered in a language I have yet to learn but already label as treasure. I do remember how your eyes shone like the star of a gentle iris I painted once while trying to understand the strokes of Van Gogh before I realised that the brush carries onto canvas much more than just a shot of colour. I recall the iris of your eyes, back in Paris, where les Etoiles is just a metro station that too many cars just go round and round and round.
That Snarl amid All the Goddesses
My sister has two birthdays,
born from one woman to give to another,
separated by religion and the cynical snarl of a nun
that my mother can never forget.
My mother gave her up before she met my father
and discovered his infertility.
I came later, restoring a semblance of sanity
for a while, until he found that same snarl.
My real mother is a goddess, of course.
Identity is easy to construct
when you haven’t a single clue
and only have one birthday.
Treasure in the Chest
In a small wooden trunk,
now roughened and rusty but too rare to disregard,
bought one rainy Sunday after a ferry ride to the north of the Dam,
I keep the treasured beer mats we wrote numbers on,
your name pressed permanently with pen and potential into the round card.
I sometimes run my fingers
over your letters to remember what it was like to feel that alive.
You are soft shadow, now, in a room of light
where men lean in, a blinding light of lust and longing and then you;
this soft suggestion in the shadow.
And then, at times, you are light when all else is drowned out
in darkness and touch not to be trusted but for you;
a ray of reassuring remembrance, alight in the distance.
I kissed other lips, Dutch lips,
below a head of oblivious blond hair, once,
as you sat across from me watching, as if to show you
that I too could devour someone else while still wanting, still watching,
still running thoughts over that imprint of passed potential.
You are there, have been here, I’ve been told;
smiling, laughing, walking towards the centre when I’ve already taken to the road,
though you too are taken, were taken, even, back then;
not mine, not ours, not even minutes.
In a small wooden box,
now roughened and rusty, memory has no attachment to time
and possibility no tie to the destiny we cannot draw.
I leave and you walk in. And so it goes.
Find more on Damien below:
Wolfpack Contributor: Damien Donnelly
Eat the Storms: https://eatthestorms.com/
5 poems & interview from Damien Donnelly in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020
Eat the Storms – The Podcast Podcast – Episode 6 – Season 3