poet Dónall Dempsey

Dónall Dempsey

Telling Him Jenny

'Tell me the poem...Sonny! '
(he always called me '...Sonny! '
'Tell me... Jenny! '
I recite
('I love your voice...Sonny! ')
as I bathe him.

He always asks
again & again,
'Who is it by...Sonny? '

And I tell him
again & again.
'It's Leigh Hunt...Johnny! '
He never remembers.

He closes
his eyes
& recites
along with me

saying the words
his lips trembling
with their beauty.
He always cries
when I come to the end

& begs again
for me to tell him
I ask him
if there was a Jenny?

And he says: 'No...
her name was Molly>'
'But, it's near
...enough! '
My hands
attend him as he dies

I whisper
in his ear
not the priest's
act of contrition
but the words
he loved to hear

I still hear his voice
speaking in silence
mouthing each
invisible word
'...say I am growing old
but add

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 21, 2007
Poem Edited: Monday, April 11, 2011

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Comments about Telling Him Jenny by Dónall Dempsey

  • Dee Dee Wright (9/23/2007 9:26:00 AM)

    Oh Donall this is such a compasionate poem. Your understanding and awareness of Johnny is just so beautiful to behold.I too love this poem(it was one of the first I was able to remember without trying to remember it...it just walked into my head and took up squatter's rights!) . I too trembled at its beauty and lived by what it said. A poem not just as a thing of beauty but as a moral value in your life and what was important in it and to it. But your love of the poem and your love of this dying old man and how you twin & twine the two of them together is just stunning. I adore it. You always write the most beautiful off the wall indirect love poems that anybody can come up with! I cried at the phrase 'My hands attend him when he dies...' which gave the idea of your caring for him and washing him at the same time. And whispering 'Jenny' to him instead of a ritual prayer is a wonderful moment. I love the repetion of the phrases 'Whose it by...Sonny! ' & 'It's by Leigh Hunt...Johnny! ' and then that actually happens! This is one of the most tender and kind poems I have ever read...and such amazing love! A blessed poem...almost holy in its care for this man and you holding this sense of him in your hand. The poem is the most wonderful way of acknowledging him and to let us love him too.

    love Dee Dee

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