Shades of Blue

Blue is commonly associated with sadness yet I’ve noticed that many bloggers will respond to a photo of beautiful blue flowers by enthusiastically proclaiming that blue is their favourite colour!

Here is a stunning watercolour painting of blue irises recently posted on her blog by Jodi McKinney and used here with Jodi’s permission. Aren’t they beautiful? And note the first three lines of her post quoted below…

Blue Irises Watercolor 11×14

Watercolor Blues.

I had the watercolor “blues” this past weekend.

Not the sad blues, but the HAPPY French Ultramarine and Cerulean and Cobalt Teal blues with a punch of Crimson and Quinacridone Gold for more fun!

From:   Watercolor Blues   by Jodi McKinney of   The Creative Life In Between

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” – Robert Frost

Quote shared with me by Ellen (“Gem”) in comments on a blog-post.

Today I’m going to share two very special poems…

Kay McKenzie Cooke currently lives in Dunedin, New Zealand. Kay spent her formative years in the small seaside town of Orepuki in Southland and at the age of ten moved to the Otama Valley near Gore. More at Kay’s “About” page

I am very honoured to have Kay’s permission to share this deeply personal poem which I first read in her book “made for weather” published 2007.

(for my daughter Ro)

— by Kay McKenzie Cooke

I never knew you
except intimately; you were
my own, my flesh. Then
I never knew you at all

except in thought.
Or imagination. Or as a dream
as real as a fact.
Your imprint, as faint as a star

out there somewhere;
a face I’d lost and looked for
often, only assuming
it to be beautiful. And I was right:

When you found me
I found you
were still a heart beating
under my own heart.


“It’s a poem dear to me as it expresses that feeling of never forgetting a baby that for reasons beyond your control at the time, you thought it better for them to be adopted into a loving family with two parents and siblings.

In my case, there was a happy ending and I feel extremely blessed.”

— Kay McKenzie Cooke
in an email to Liz 24 April 2019

This photo was taken by Nigel when we lived at Papatowai in the Catlins, South Otago. Below the moon a lone star faintly glows. I was keen to illustrate the star line from Kay’s poem and Nigel found this special photo in his archives — Liz

Click on the photo to enlarge

Your imprint, as faint as a star out there somewhere

Damien B. Donnelly is Irish and currently lives in Paris, France. I’m equally honoured to have permission to share his poem about adoption, this time from the perspective of having been adopted since birth. I invited Damien to contribute some words about his background and decided to present his poem first followed by the story. Here are Damien’s photo and poem from his recent blog

The beautiful fountain is at the end of Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris.

Shades of Blue

— by Damien B. Donnelly


I hear you calling
in shades of blue
from within a distance
my arm’s reach can never cover.

I hear you calling
in shades of blue,
your concern comes in currents
across the continents,
in those cold corners
when I question creation
and my position within it.

I hear you calling
in shades of blue
only one born to know no origins
can truly discern
in these days
that demand ties
that have not been well tethered.


I always knew I was adopted, a precious bedtime story my mother told me; how I was chosen, how I was special. As a child I held this tale as truth. I went to school feeling more special than the rest, more than the teachers who looked away while the bullies tormented me. As a child it was fine to stand on a pillar above the rest, dealing with my own developing identity, sexuality. In Ireland, in the 80’s, coming to terms with being gay was my sole battle. Adoption wasn’t a question I had time to think about. However, as I grew older, it became colder on this pillar, far from everyone, pretending to be strong, helping everyone else and ignoring myself, ignoring my past; the origins that I really didn’t know at all. As much as I explored new lands, new friends, new loves, I finally realised I could never fully understand myself until I listened to the voices inside that had been calling, all along, that my identity lay in finding out how I came to be. I was viewed by everyone as a pillar of strength but had become a fragile feather being blown from one truth to another. But those truths had become fairy tales. When you’re adopted it comes with a whisper in the back of your mind that you have been given up, tossed aside, worthless. It took a panic attack on the top of a volcano in South Korea to wake me up, to drop me from the pillar. It is time to find my worth. I know there are voices in my head that tell me fiction, that whisper of worthless. But I know there are other voices, truer voices that whisper through the shades of blue of a hope, a woman’s sacrifice and my own freedom.

— Damien B. Donnelly
invited background story, received by Liz 25 April 2019

Dear Kay and Damien, thank you both for sharing your hearts in your poetry and writing, and for allowing me so much freedom in putting this blog together. Much love to you both!

Kay blogs at   Cuttings
Her most recent post  Puki Power  includes photos of Orepuki where Kay spent her younger childhood years. The photos were taken recently when she returned there with her grandchildren and together they enjoyed the stunning local environment.

Damien blogs at   Deuxiemepeau
Picturing poetry… many poems, photography – beautiful and surprising details from Paris and from his travels, occasional paintings and drawings, and short stories. He’s recently posted photos from his visit to the remarkable Vincent Van Gogh exhibition at Atelier des Lumieres, Paris

Posted by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)

45 thoughts on “Shades of Blue

Add yours

  1. Simply beautiful! I can lay no claim to being an artist, a poet, a photographer or a blogger. Nor can I lay claim to being a profound thinker, relying as I do on repeating the words of the many who were and are. So when I find myself mentioned on this magnificent post amidst the talents of Jodi, Kay, Damien and Nigel…I am the happiest of happies for this undeserved honor for simply having shared a quote. Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, but what you always have is a “word in season”. I did a search on that and one result I got is really wonderful.. a proverb from the wise Solomon. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (KJV). Much love to you and Benjamin!


      1. When I was feeling insignificant amidst these talented people you lifted me up and now with these words from the wisest of the wise you have managed to do so again. “Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.” – Henry Clay. These words I learned from my Father, another Henry Clay. Thank-YOU!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – I am almost speechless with emotion. This is so heartfelt and beautiful Liz. An honor to be part of it. An honor to “know” you. Very, very SPECIAL ❤ HUGS from Mars!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those hugs from Mars ARE really special.. thanks for your wonderful comment and hugs! I feel quite overcome with the positive responses and grateful for how you’re so generous in letting me share your beautiful work. Best wishes for a beautiful Spring in your part of the world!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know how to respond to such an emotionally moving posting, except to say thanks to everyone who contributed to it. The combination of beauty and raw emotional vulnerability in each submission really shook me. Adoption is not something with which I have any personal experience, but there is a universality about the struggle to understand one’s identity. For that reason, Damien’s words really struck a responsive chord in me. Thanks, Liz, for curating such a powerful and thought-provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a strong compulsion to put this post together.. difficult to explain. I always look forward to hearing from you Mike and your thoughtful response really touched me. Thanks for taking the time to read and for giving back through your comment. It means a lot.


  4. Liz, what is there to say but thank you, thank you, thank you. You have curated an emotional collection here of delicate beauty, from Jodie’s stunning Irises, Nigel’s starry night to Kay’s poem expressing so delicately the feeling of that loss in letting go and that joy in finding her daughter, again, standing beautiful before her eyes. I am so moved to be a part of this.
    ‘…a face I’d lost and looked for often…’ I can so relate to these lines from Kay and it is so refreshingly positive to see both sides of adoption together, the one who had to give up and the one given up to hope. I am fortunate to share this connection with my mother who, before she adopted me, had a child herself before marriage, in Ireland in the 60’s and gave that child up for adoption and then, years later, having married and realized her husband could not have children, they adopted a child themselves and that child was me, So, for my mother, the motions came around full circle and for myself it was wonderful how we could talk to each other about how it felt, again, from both sides.
    Her daughter, now my big sister, came back to her over 14 years ago. She is a part of the family we never knew was missing and brought my mother the gift of being a grandmother (let’s face it, she was never gonna get that gift from me.)
    Coming to understand that I have questions is relatively new to me. I have literally just started talking about it, but I feel you have to put things out in the universe first and see what comes back. So far, with this wonderful post from you, Liz, I can already feel the love, support and joy. Thank you Liz, congratulations on reuniting with your daughter Kay, thank you for the irises Jodie and for the starry night Nigel. Love to you all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I felt compelled to bring this together, it would’ve been difficult to resist. I’m relieved, humbled by the positive response and thankful for the everyday generous sharing from you and Kay (in poems, and also through our comment-chats). I’m glad that you’re both fine with how the post turned out. I believe there’s hope and healing in the honest sharing of stories. Jodi is a constant inspiration with her art, photography, poems and other writing, and her irises were posted just in time to include. Thanks for expanding on the adoption story in your comment – this really rounds out the picture.. yours is an amazing story and there’s loads of love and support going with you as you determine the way ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An honour and a privilege to be referred to on your blog, Liz and to have my poem shared with such a beautiful photo and painting. Damien’s poem is extremely moving. My daughter and I have had 22 years now to form a deep relationship. Being grandmother to her children has helped heal the early years I didn’t have with her. She also still has the strong and loving relationship she has always had and also with her adoptive parents and all her siblings (adoptive and blood). I understand Damien’s longing and he expresses it so well in that poem. It is so tangible and real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your story through your poem and comments Kay and for allowing me to share your poem in this post. Overall things seemed to work out remarkably well for you and your daughter – it’s so encouraging to know your story!

      Liked by 1 person

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