marilyn braendeholm

1962 Cobalt Blue

It was during the summer of ‘62 that
my father painted June, July and August.
Not painting the house, or bedrooms,
or the kitchen that baby-puke avocado
green to match mother’s fridge. No.

We rented a cottage that summer
along a stretch of grey flat beach
that was muffled in cool salty fog
every morning. My father painted
the sea every day using 3 tubes of paint.

One was white, like the colour of heaven,
one was as grey as an oyster, and one was
cobalt blue. He’d sit on his metal folding
chair that by noon was half swallowed
by shifting sand, and he’d paint.

His brush stroked clouds, waves
and breakers, sand and gliding gulls.
And the sea – mostly the sea. But as soon
as he’d captured its perfume on the canvas
something would happen – something

would change. The light shifting blues
to sulky grey, waves toppling white and
rolling toward black, the wind spinning
mist to helius heights, and sometimes it
was so quiet that you’d hear pebbles sing.

“This damned sea,” he’d say, “get a feel
for it and she changes partners – waltzes
into a tango, and you never see it coming.
Just like a woman to use up my cobalt blue!”

What woman, I’d ask. But he never
answered. He just spackled more cobalt blue
into the depths of a near-cresting wave,
thick and delicious as toothpaste.
The sea, the sea: I never understood the sea.

Marilyn Braendeholm lives in the UK surrounded by flowers, grapevines, bubbling pots of sourdough starter, bottles of fermenting vinegar, a Springer Spaniel, and a small camera that she keeps in her pocket. She never buys clothing without pockets.

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