Mary O'Dwyer

We Built a Table

Delivered to you, I was in bits.
I had no framework, no boundaries.
You provided me with a base
That we could build upon.
I had no legs to stand on.
You propped me up and supported me;
The weight was on your shoulders.
I thought I was hard and strong -
You saw through my transparency,
You uncovered my veneer;
You chiselled through my deepest layers
To the soft and pliable wood.
I was wobbling, cracking, splitting, nuts.
I wanted to bolt away.
Life seemed dark and dingy, ebony;
Blocked and never ending.
You discarded my decaying rot,
You tightened my hinges and connected my joints.
I stand firm upright unscathed.
My platform has been raised.
I now know how and where I am,
And what my function is.
I no longer stand out on a limb.
I mirror your footsteps,
Coated in a protective varnish -
I am square.


'I was born in 1963. I was brought up in children's homes until I was 16, then I was fostered for two years. I went on to qualify as a psychiatric nurse. At 32, I was diagnosed with bi-polar-affective disorder. I have written poetry for many years, and this poem, as well as the poems on pages 46 and 62 are taken from a collection called 'Coat of Blanket Dreams'. This is a poem that I wrote for my psychoanalyst.