Wing of collar bone,
the sculptural jut of hips,
trilobite processes of spine,
cage of ribs; and love,
the hungry prisoner.
— from “Thin”
Written with a rare crispness, Donaldson’s most recent collection set off an ache in my heart that’s yet to abate. Contained within these pages is the throb of yesterday, the pulse of today and the promise of tomorrow. All of these phases are approached by Donaldson with the same vigour, ‘I tie back my hair and get on.’
As with much Irish poetry, the poet seems to inhabit the very earth they are born into. Donaldson does this with more subtlety than many others. She becomes the alpha and the omega, earth and firmament as we become willing travellers on her journey through the hills of Ireland and the drumlins of memory:
‘…the diagnosis; the unlatched
gate — horses escaping into the night;
the hooked beak of grief: now it’s real…’
In her hands, potentially dry, pastoral themes become something lighter, more contemporary. In ‘Coming out of Winter’ we see a perplexed GP undertrained in mental health issues. The patient is leaves undiagnosed but, ‘I’m carrying on.’ Sometimes that’s all we can do.