after “Horses”

a poem by Sally Denshire


His brushes fume in turpentine,

milk from the mainland sours,

another day breaks around the tropic island shack.

Fairweather lets go his brush.

The kero-lit Masonite glows with equine outlines,

teems with flesh tones and

shards of Oriental calligraph.

Stretching his arms skyward,

cicadas whirring in surround sound until

the childhood nightmare returns.

Mama heading for Papa’s regiment in the Punjab,

abandons baby Ian to the moor.

Him at the whim of two aunts with whiskey breaths.

‘And that Old Country stench of

burnt porridge and dank brick;

still it makes me queasy.’


I look again at the gallery wall on this air-con afternoon

where his outlines morph to a band of brumbies.

Mare and foal gaze through cicada haze,

inhaling each other’s breath

in a slow mother-baby dance as the stallions graze.

The mob turns,

thunders under the island pines,

hooves patterning and compacting the dunes.



Ian Fairweather’s painting “Horses” is on loan to Murray Art Museum, Albury (MAMA) from Miss Drysdale’s private collection. This collection favourite is now showing as part of Land & Title in Joss Family Galleries, MAMA.

 Links and further reading


Published in fourWtwenty-eight in association with Booranga Writers’ Centre and reproduced here with kind permission

Kerrie at MAMA for assistance

Tim for taking the photograph


artist, ekphrasis, Ian Fairweather, MAMA, poetry


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