Greg McLaren, ‘Sunflowers’


These scratchy yellows,
they answer an itch
inside your brain, or is it
your heart? That feeling,
it’s not restorative –

it peels open again
the newly-sealed fissure
of healing skin, and the layers
of flesh, and muscle, and blood
that flexes and flinches

beneath. Those yellows
are picked-out from the sun,
scabbed onto the canvas.
You expect from them
a doled-out familiarity.

It’s not the vivid bruise
of yellow that surprises, but
the familiar-ness: sunflowers,
wheatfields, stars. Surely,
packed in there somewhere,

is a pancreatic yellow, a cowardice,
or what our retinas make
from the sun’s ancient fission.
These spots and strokes are the shade
of dying. I am jaundiced against it.

The stars are pricked and pinched
into the deep, flat sky, through to a brighter
occasion; or they’re emissions
of colour leaching from ours.
Sunflowers: stretching past

the spectrum of beauty, or
suffering, or aesthetic intensity.
The drench and glare of sun-damage –
a light film of dust, or surface,
scattered over everything.

from  The Kurri Kurri Book of the Dead   by Greg McLaren

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