The Shrine

The day is like a painting     hazy
with sun; our shoes plod and slot
in the grooves of bridle path.
We climb to the Sycamore tree.

Potted petunias clustered beneath,
plastic daffodils stuffed in the earth,
pansies with faces like Pekinese,
a candle in a jar     a teddy bear.

The shrine is for anyone,
a partner, a parent, a child,
even a dog who liked to walk here.

We sit on a wooden bench;
my sister’s bracelets     rustle
silver sounds     approximations
of what we might say.

Far away     through fields of long grass,
I spot a girl in a red dress     running away −
I can’t tell if it is our mother as a child
or if it is me     running towards her.

Carolyn Abbs was Highly Commended in the Dorothy Hewett Unpublished Manuscript Award 2016. Her first poetry collection The Tiny Museums will be published with UWA Publishing in October 2017.