Dónall Dempsey

Veteran Poet - 1,546 Points (15/07/56 / Curragh Camp, Co. Kildare, Eire.)

Donall Said Me! (For Lyn) - Poem by Dónall Dempsey

Your 3 year old
search for words
trying to grasp them
as I speak them

seeing what you are hearing
as a tangible thing
sound a something
you can touch

me decieving you
to try to please you
with the truth of lies

confusing the issue
with my trickery
me stupidly tearing
a scrap of paper scrawling

Tilly! Tilly! Tilly!
on it
placing it
secretly like a holy wafer
upon my tongue

like a little bird
calling
'Tilly! Tilly! Tilly'
& you
peeling your slippery
name

from my voice
wild & wet with amazement
running with wonder
to Mummy
with a 'Look...
look...Donall said me'

they mystery of your world
curling up at the edges
held in the palm
of your hand.

***

TELLING TILLY TALES

Almost as if
I hypnotize you
you gaze
entranced

as the words
flower from my mouth
your tiny hands
trying to grasp their

blossoming
crying 'cos you can't
catch them
and now
with anguished anger

trying to tear them
from my lips
the treasure of speech
as if a magic trick
you can't quite figure out

this mystery of
words
you want to hold
in your hands
that you can only
hear in your heart

this ghost of breath
that dies
with its birth
the wonder
of words

that blazes
behind your eyes
setting your mind
on fire!

***

I WAS ONLY A SONG AND A DREAM GONE

My daughter cries:
'No, now I'll tell
the story! '

'Close your eyes! '
I close my eyes.

'The rain
sang
a sad little song
that made
the windows cry! '

I smile
pretend I've fallen
asleep
as she tucks me
up in dreams

tells her teddy
to 'Shhhh...
...can't you see
Daddy's sleeping? '
The teddy begs
her pardon.

She strokes my hair
& tells me the story
of the rain again again
until she falls
asleep

under the spell of its telling.
I place her
gently

inside the dreams
I dream for her.
Her Mummy
scolding me with ' What..!
...took you so long? '

I tell her:
'I was only a dream
& a song gone! '

***

THE TELLER OF TALES

Fragile as a little bird
you alight on my lap
weighing no more

than a dream
or a wonder would.
You adjust your bony bum
perch & command me to begin:

“Say... the story! ”
This is how the story
always begins

eyelash to eyelash
chin to chin.
You gaze into my eyes
as if the story already
exists there
and my voice just colours it in.
Whether it be Grimm
or Hans Christian Andersen
you never take
your eyes
off of
my eyes.

Your little hands
hold the sides of my face
So(you say)
you can feel

“The way the words move! ”
And night after night
to your and my
ever greater delight

You say: “Say... the story! ”
And the night listens

as the big human
weaves a world
for the little human
to get lost in
& find herself
again.

Precious as water
little daughter
I carry your sleeping
& put your dreams
to bed.

***

MAKSHIFT DADDY(FOR TILLY)

She wraps her legs
around my neck
pulls on the reins
of my ears and curls
when she wants me
to giddy up or stop.

She screams: 'Daddy Daddy! '
and excitedly wee wees down
the back of my neck,

A happy little girl
happy that I am her Daddy
...even just for now.
'You're my pretend Daddy
'cos my real Daddy's gone away

to be dead
in Heaven.'
She tells me that one day
she will visit him in Heaven
but she will '...have to wait
until she's grown up dead.'

'But...' (she carefully
assesses the situation)
'...you'll do
for the time being! '

***

These are all the 'Tilly' poems which basically explore Tilly's world and her search for words and sound and sense and reason. It was such an amazing experience telling her bedtime stories...whether it was me telling her or her telling me. Her fascination with my voice and where the words were coming from...she tracked the source to my mouth and would try to pull the words out and hold them in her hand. She would cry for my words and be amazed that if they were so real why couldn't she feel them...touch them...hold them. Her little nails once cut my gums and lips and I told her I could say the word 'Blood! ' and indeed the word was accompanied by the actual thing dripping from my lips...this was the nearest we got to the sound and actuality arriving together to be a tangible touchable thing.

The debate about the page or the voice...I was with Tilly! I too wanted to touch the trembling beauty of a word and hold it in my palm like a quivering little bird.

Tilly was such a beautiful little girl and I was so proud she allowed me to be her makeshift Daddy. I wore it like a badge of honour. Tilly was just pure delight...a happiness made tangible and so beautifully...real!


Comments about Donall Said Me! (For Lyn) by Dónall Dempsey

  • (9/23/2007 8:46:00 AM)

    A ravishingly beautiful poem - thanks!

    And it reminds me of the way an ancient poem would sign itself, putting poem rightly before poet: 'Donall said me'...
    (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, September 23, 2007

Poem Edited: Monday, April 11, 2011


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