Rhian Brynjolson is a winnipeg artist and award winning illustrator of numerous children’s books including Goose Girl and Red Parka Mary . Besides numerous solo exhibits of her work Rhian is a founding member of the River on the Run artist collective with whom she has shared in numerous group exhibits.

(Stories) Poetry| Storm

Study in oil and water

Study in oil and water
Rhian Brynjolson

This poem,
written by Gerry Wolfram,
is a poet’s response
to Rhian Brynjolson‘s
Study in oil and water.

Storm a constant backdrop,
climate menacing
as anger of the young ones
occupies the sky exposing
dark cloudbanks.
Who can blame them, bravely pitching
tents against the reign of greed?

One young figure finds a way
to stay afloat against the sucking tide.

“Pull out all you have,” she says,
“bind it together to make
yourself a buoyant raft.

Retrieve the peach silk of your wedding
dress and peg it to your own yard arm
to catch the wind
of possibility.

Think only on protecting what remains,
what can be salvaged.
The thing with feathers – hope –
is folded in upon itself,
its body slack and slimed
with oily waste.

But gather up its fractured form,
wipe clean each wing,
align each feather

Although the beaded
oil is eddying around you,
shining like false pearls,
tie back your hair, put on
a muscle shirt and gather up
what’s left
– the pelican
your flag
and caritas
your dwelling place,
your tent.
Set out
into the storm
and gather up
your broken hopes.”

*The pelican is an ancient symbol of sacrifice, of caring or caritas. As the story goes, the pelican tears flesh from its own breast to feed its hungry young.
*Emily Dickinson wrote: “Hope” is the thing with feathers.”

Talking Water Project|Stories

Talking Water Project|Gerry Wolfram

Talking Water Project|Rhian Brynjolson

(Stories) Poetry| Aquaduct

Study in oil and water

Study in oil and water
Rhian Brynjolson

This poem,
written by Jennifer Still,
is a poet’s response
to Rhian Brynjolson‘s
Study in oil and water.


How do we speak of the ill?
When our most valuable infrastructure
is built on an epidemic rusting.
I can’t see the pipes in my kitchen
walls where I want to cut a hole.
I want a hole through
what I can’t see.

The lake looks right through me.
(You lie there with a lie inside.)
I am not seeing what happens
behind the dam. Behind your
closed mouth.


There is a light pouring
behind you. A round
hatch. All the water has been
drained so you can be here
imagining another way
out. The flash has caught
your eyes so empty
they tip themselves
back. I walk by thinking
mirror, thinking look.
The exit frames you, a halo
in those Christian paintings.
You stand up inside the main
artery and smile with two holes
in your head, toward the pressure.
Light streams where the flood is being
held back.


Look: there is an iv inside of it: live.
A blink in the birdhouse. Another.

Two eyes behind one hole behind
the spine of something

feathering. A bedsheet can be raised
like a sail. Cleanliness can be peace.

If the bolus was a birdhouse,
the feedline our steady rain.


The breath is made of sticks. Tent flutter.
The pencil holds center post.

There is that taut catch in clavicle,
hammock where I lie down and measure

your sips. A pen is said to make the incision
in a pinch. There, where you breathe, where

I pour a small lake
for the bird to drink.

Talking Water Project|Stories

Talking Water Project|Jennifer Still

Talking Water Project|Rhian Brynjolson