Renewal • Róisín-Anne Jenkinson

Isaiah 41:18

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns that bring both excitement and despair, and we can choose which to see and live through. It may be difficult to be positive at times, but that is when those who encourage us come into our life and shine light into a dark perspective. There are moments in life to step out in faith and take a chance, regardless of the risk of embarrassment or shame, but it is important we take those steps, because we never know where they may lead us. If we follow what we believe to be right and true, most of the time will guarantee wonder and joy. It is also important to be wary of the dangers, but not so much that fear causes us to block out any potential possibility of living a full and glorious life of becoming our best selves and meeting people from any place, from any walk of life, who make us feel worthy of all we can be.


Drifting in and out of consciousness is where this river began

to flow from a mountainous peak down through valleys

meandering and interlocking from east to west to east to west

mostly smooth and steady while sometimes splashing and crashing against rock

that knocks you down, leaving bruises

that only reveal themselves after a number of days

as yellow blue purple horrible nasty things on your skin

that you can no longer remember how you got it or where you got it from…

but then a light turns on and you remember

where this river began

to which you are back on that same course of highs and lows and lefts and rights

trying to reach the bank of solid ground

where you can stand firm, walk, run, anything but drown

in this emotional deluge of feeling too much yet not understanding what you are feeling

as you try navigate the river with your limited tools

as you try predict what is around the bend so you can know what to prepare for

even though knowing won’t make a difference

because you only have so much you can use to soften the blow of becoming more bruised.

Never-the-less you paddle on through the various stages of this river

from rapid velocity down steep slopes over rapids and vertical overhangs

where water falls and plummets into a plunge pool

where you may be submerged for a short while…

before floating back up to the surface and trying to cling onto the overturned boat

while you catch your breath

before turning the boat right way up and climbing back in

to which you must empty of any water that is still in

because you don’t want to swim in a boat that keeps you afloat

this ever-changing river

that brings you further along this course

to smoother slower stages that still have some bends that you will crane your neck to look around

but at least you’re not being shaken from the safety of your boat

threatening another tipsy turn over.


You travel slowly through smooth water

with the sun beaming down on you and everything around you;

the river shimmering, the trees swaying, the birds singing and nature praying

for light to take over and stay in this blissful paradise of being still and seeing

what you forgot

from being caught in this dangerous reality of drowning

in a world that does not care if you live or if you die

because you are only one in a million,

or rather several billion,

of people fighting every single day to earn what they deserve

but sometimes you forget

that you are not the only one on this river trying to stay dry in your safe boat

when you see others fighting to keep their head above the water,

gasping for air

and desperately want to help them out, pull them from the raging river

into your life boat

but there are too many to save and your boat is too small for all to fit in

so you just reach out to those closest to you

and pray there are more boats reaching for others

at different stages of this river or on different rivers altogether.


Another river enters your river when you least expect it

contributing to the flow and motion, raising the level of the river and

your emotions

to heighten the intensity of the shock of the unexpected

clash of two rivers becoming one

or at least two rivers now following the same course

at least for now

at least until the two rivers separate to follow their own course

and perhaps will enter different rivers further along

or perhaps will reconnect with each other at a later time

but who knows what is around that bend and the next and the next and the next.

The river flows continuously and changes direction constantly

sometimes splitting in two allowing you to choose

which way to paddle

while sometimes forcing you, rushing you around a sharp bend with nothing to cling onto

apart from the hope that you will survive this raging river

and strive on further with fervour

as the adrenaline of fear and anxiety coursing through your body

turns to laughter and excitement as you surrender to the river to take you on it’s course

whether smooth or rough

meeting people along the way that you will link arms with

until you become part of a chain of communion

who will strengthen and encourage each other as you all move along

this river together.


The river begins to slow down, depositing it’s heavy load so it can move on

while you hold onto that which you pulled out of the water further up

where you were struggling to understand why some row up river

using all their strength to persuade themselves that they do not need to change

even though by going against the flow they are inevitably changing

while others race down river to get as far away from what has past as they can

and missing the details of the beautiful things that flash by as a blur

instead of taking time to take in what they could see if only they slowed down

and allowed the river to carry them through at it’s natural pace,

when you remember that have tried both rowing backwards up river and racing down

twisting your neck to see behind and craning it to see around bends

because you just might see what is to come this time

this time, or maybe this time.

This time you pay close attention to the detail captured by light

and see something so bright that you become blind to everything around you

that you begin comparing the detailed incision of jagged rock to skin,

cutting the surface to let the light out from within,

to that which you no longer see

to that which you would see if only you looked up from where you were breathing water

trying to see the beauty beneath the surface

disregarding the need for air

swallowing gallons and gallons of water

that when you pull your head out you are spurting the river back into the river for days.

It is only after you puke your guts out of the poison that took over your body

that you can feel clean again

and remember who you once were to become who you now are

easing the heavy load you bore for so long into the depths of this river that remembers

and moves on to brighter places that you call paradise;

Cair Paravel of Kings and Queens preserving the beauty of every detail that makes you.

As the river distributes, you pick up the oar and steer through at a steady pace

observing the deltas of your past as you pass by,

lingering on some longer than others,

before arriving to the sea.


Ahead of you is an endless horizon of blue;

blue sky above blue water with the sun shining to light it up.

Now, you could take this as a bad ending where you become stranded and lost at sea,

where you

become baked by the sun, where your life boat becomes your tomb

or, you can take this as another mystery, where you wander and hope to

discover new places filled

with beauty and light

because who knows what is beyond that horizon.

No one can curve their eye to see around a bend, but

you choose to hope that everything will be alright,

you choose to hope that there will be a shoreline beyond that horizon,

you choose to believe that this boat you are in is your life boat.

Róisín-Anne Jenkinson is a visual and live artist, poet and curator. She has poetry published in numerable anthologies and has self-published books, including her most recent book Within Nature (2018). She has exhibited work in Dublin and Cork and performed in a variety of places, including La Biennale di Venezia (2017). She has curated both literary and performance events since 2016 and written several reviews for

Featured art by Josephine Duffy: Detail from ‘Flight and flow’ (Mullet Creek suite), an oil painting, 2020. Check here Josephine’s page for more artworks.

For the Portuguese version, read here.