From The Corrosion Zone by Barbara Strang


For Andrew (February 1961 - January 2000)

For your final scene:
an old barn near Pigeon Flat,
on an operatic hill slope.

The properties:
a dun station wagon,
a handwritten book of poems,
binder twine.

The window
reveals the chequered scene,
soft entanglements

since a ngaio let you down,
pills failed, the cliff
was too abrupt.

These roles you'd taken,
student, poet, confessor, father,
your last one: loser in love.

In the barn small creatures lie,
borer beetles in the timbers,
mice doze in their nests.

Here wild bees have made a hive -
on the cusp of a new age you sway
as they drone a lullaby.


I read the poem
in a scarlet covered book

about how your brother
tied the tomatoes up

with strips of my
'worn-out pantyhose'.

But pantyhose don't wear out -
they run run run.

Nor was there any brother -
I was the one who

raised the tender plants

sagging under
their own weight.

Through the intense summer
that you were away

the tomatoes swelled
into huge red hearts.

©Barbara Strang 2011