1834 c/o Ted Bonham


There she is
stood in the full green flow
-over of her neatly unkempt garden,
wearing those new, royal blue overalls
and clutching – or no
not clutching, but
perhaps only holding up
to the light, like the photograph of a loved one,
a square of brown-yellow golden sandpaper
(9’’ x 11’’, aluminium-oxide
backed with flexible C-weight).


Good. That was
the image I wanted to start with—
I wanted to capture her there
at that moment, without
too many prevarications.


In the early summer sun
of that afternoon in the garden,
glass in hand – sorry,
sandpaper in hand,
with her dog, a Beagle named Darwin,
chasing after butterflies and research funding,
digging up mastodon bones and the out of date methodologies
of another project that never got out of the ground

because she paid too little attention to Gardeners’ Question Time
and most of her long ago childhood
simply messing about
in something.



She looks intently at the sandpaper,
admiring the glitter of its surface
in the early summer, late afternoon sun.

She watches the bubbles rising in her glass
collecting about the ice cubes
melting at the surface.


There must be something to it.
Why else would she have spent so much
of her life to be a poet?


She remembers an unused canvas in the back bedroom
(perhaps her husband is a painter, or was
going to be one Christmas)
and she runs upstairs to fetch it.


Back outside in the sun
before it starts to dim
she sets to work laying out the pages;
9’’ x 11’’, 9’’ x 11’’, 9’’ x 11’’,
9’’ x 11’’, 9’’ x 11’’, 9’’ x 11’’,
9’’ x 11’’, 9’’ x 11’’, 9’’ x 11’’,
and so on, in varying grit.

She works with the sun, working
out where similar pieces should sit next to each other
and where they should be separated.

She covers the entire canvas with neat rows
of different grades of sandpaper
until the whole thing is like one giant sheet
resembling something in the sun.

The texture of it somehow seems important—


the curious, uneven surface of a poem.