A selection of poems by Lyn Browne ©
Far off I see mud
the colour of steeped tea.
She'd have caught the way
those mangroves slope to the water,
that creep of incoming tide.
How could she paint it so wet?
Always she favoured mud over water,
felt drawn to tidal flats, sediment, silt.
She'd have pinned that shadow
where branches lean over the bank.
She would not have missed
that splash of yellow up there on the hill
just as the sun bursts through.
Where the river curves, a glint of steel.
She might have omitted that bridge.
She was always selective.
I draft my poem,
try to pin down
that darkness under those boughs,
and she will finish her painting.
Soon we will go together
to where I parked the car before
we came to this place between two worlds.
When the partying’s done
set free the balloons. Hope for a breezy day,
feel the tug, all colour singing, stretching light.
The relentless pull and the sliding away.
Let them go and take the summer with them.
The not-knowing, the hoping
it might be possible to soar above grey,
lose colour, lose the self.
At some point the shrinking must begin.
What if the spiral is downwards
and what it holds has no substance at all?
How would you know
when you’d reached the end?
‘Foxglove’ she wrote. ‘Foxglove’,
and here a name: ‘my brother’s wife’.
She has gone and left her crumpled notes,
fragments broken loose,
worries compressed in looping script.
If she had only said, I could have helped
lodge words for her, made light of it.
How many did she destroy?
She knew about shadow, understood
the way the past breaks through.
She could take up a stick of pastel,
turn it sideways and begin a smudge.
She knew I was never bold enough
to know where to begin.
She knew I was better at words
and we are linked by those she left behind:
After they had gone I left the dishes,
made a cup of tea and carried it through
to where if I listened carefully
I might hear their voices eddying.
A paper plane had come down in a corner.
I placed it by their photograph, sipped my tea,
retrieved the plane to press its folds
more sharply. I held on to it.
Their re-packing of my work box
had not gone well, the lid jammed firmly
on whatever spilled out.
A fan from another time lay beside it.
I had offered it to her.
I wondered why she left it behind.
I spotted a crumpled note, a link between
what is past and what is now.
I pounced on it, found only scribbles,
no message. Under the table a spread of crumbs.
I would leave those for now.
I wanted to leave them.
I remembered the dishes,
carried back my empty cup,
ran the hot tap and thought about
the journey ahead.
I wondered what to do with the plane.
It’s inside my work box now, flat-packed
along with the fan.