Rose Lucas

Rose Lucas is a Melbourne poet. Her first collection, Even in the Dark (University of WA Publishing), won the Mary Gilmore Award in 2014; her second collection was Unexpected Clearing (UWAP, 2016). She is currently working on her next collection At the Point of Seeing. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate Research Centre at Victoria University.
Family Portrait

Van Dyck, c. 1619

In their best Flemish clothes –
        lace ruffs and jewelry, brocaded fabric –
this young couple gaze
             intense and hopeful
out of the canvas;
they lean toward me as though
             all this
were as fast as the shuttering
of a lens;

their bonneted child,
dandled on her mother’s knee,
looks behind and up –
she has no need to look my way;

Her parents are vibrant with
        youth and prosperity,
their connection to each other,
their pride in the child;

like every family –
        holy in their ordinariness –
they hold the unfolding generations
in their richly upholstered arms:
Look! we have made this future –
        it belongs to us.

Only consider –
(and here the benefit of hindsight)
        their willingness to pause,
             to sit while a painter
        takes their likenesses
             in pigment and brushstroke,
        placing them
                  within the rushes of time –

Look carefully –
hold fast to the slipperiness of this moment –
it will not always
        be like this.


From Mallaig

Heaving out from the harbour,
        its narrow lean of wooden houses,
                salt-weathered in a cloudy light –

a ferry clanks and judders
        picking its way past little boats,
                their tangle of nets

and out into the slap and wash of darkening water:

stink of diesel and fish swim
                in freshets of air,
rubbing cheeks into ruddiness;

until the hump of island
sails into view –
        its possibilities of destination,
                palette of smudged greys and greens
flickering through the glass;

the angular spine of the Cuillins
        scrapes against
a loamy sky,
writhing in channels of wind;

while, deep in boggy fields,
restless in peat –

These tannin-soaked fields,
this permeable membrane,
this elongated moment when a boat might
        clip and ride,
a shoreline in sight.