“The Underpainting” by Haley Alice Jenkins (Surrey)

The Underpainting

by Surrey resident, Haley Alice Jenkins

“For my Great Grandfather, a child of WW1 and a soldier in Burma in WW2. He came home.”


He sits at the easel, painting his home, a beach village of
sandy footprints, broken shells and a red flag,
slow moving cars spit down the road
hello to more tourists
it’s safe to stand on the shore.

He brushes blue into the sea to tame it out of grey
the palm trees disappear beneath the froth, a disgruntled gull
And he paints his shop brighter than other bricks
And hides the guns behind the garage, an evergreen.

The noise escapes the canvas,
paints speak a Makaton of their own,
a language where you can hide
the tunnels in the hills
the blood
beneath shades of aqua marine
sponge clouds over planes
this is the underpainting.
Noise has no watercolour.

He hears it and paints a window, blackened frames
where he sees the jungle vines on his wife’s kitchen table,
He won’t tell the dead captain he’s not invited,
the waves stir his palate, he’s painting his own hands
As the screams drown the storm he dabs
over a bombsite.

He paints his grandchildren in, stick-figures
and finds nothing under them, a square of white
absence of pain
And they build a sandcastle before his storm
skitter back to his shop where the smell
of Welsh violets and ice-cream
overcoat the bloodied rice.


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This entry was posted in Jenkins Haley Alice, Poems from Surrey, Poetry, Poets and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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