The Beautiful Moment and other poems from Rose Lucas

The Beautiful Moment
after Toby Penney, visual artist

when a slide of elements might slip
together    over the ordinary terrain of
a canvas its cross-hatching its patience when

something emerges  from a pounding texture
of parts     the multi-voiced scripts
of our lives and starts to happen –

viscerality of palette a thickness 
buckling and calling to
touch the language of hands

fabric collaged and echoing
the world like leaves or
a glory of water sparkling under a daffodil

sun where colour is a shorthand
that sketches the possible
the yet to be visualized  

curlicued across translucence of skin
the breathing of
this beautiful ephemera

origins of malice

This story keeps playing over –
a troublesome fairy not invited to a christening
a whole palace paralysed with suffering:

easy enough to think of her in classic pose 
far from the conversations and the mirth
the clink of glasses the fêted child

stewing alone this wicked fairy twists
her guts in bitterness sucking on 
envy like a jube

the thing she hates the most is the visibility
of other people’s happiness the shadow it casts
is intolerable bile in the mouth

harder to see the dark thing she’s gripping
humid and rattling 
under that sweep of cloak

something stunted and uncherished
relentless footsteps down a corrido panting of powerlessness

1. In the various versions of the Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose story (from Perrault, Grimm brothers, Anne Sexton to Disney), there is an uninvited and disruptive guest at the christening of the precious child, one whose ‘gift’ is poisonous rather than life-giving. The damage which this ‘wicked fairy godmother’ inflicts can only ever partially be counteracted by the goodwill of others; malice plays for high stakes, given that its engine is intolerable suffering.

the insidious voice in her head

spoil it for someone else  
it’s the only gift you have
don’t look behind you’ll
always be sorry

Poetry and Breathing

for Anne Elvey

In the end   maybe every poem is
about breathing
 about re-inscribing
the certainty 
for now at least  
of rise
and fall
this anchor
 in wild waters and calm
the unbearable simplicity of

the cool air I invite into the habitation of my body
its invisible conduits

the welcome tide of bright blood and spark
of neuron

that searches me out
washing me in the salty pathways of life

the warmed breath that flows from me
back into the world 
I am its creature

A body   swimming in air

the steady and the variable beating of
words and white

words to pulse out an interplay of
and rest
ornament and pause  while always

 the deep current of silence
its possibilities of disruption to
splinter the sheen of surface

Today, although it’s only June

spring air came  rushing in the window – warm and faintly fragrant and tapping at my heart’s slow seed-pod – at least it did in the early afternoon, that brief and grassy field of possibility where growing things still reach upwards in the sun –
a turning, a reminder –
before chill seeps in again around the edges in a tumble of greying clouds, crisping leaves, glass that’s cold to touch – so that it’s time to re-fasten the window and gather myself back in, folded and close through these interior landscapes, the roiling of this unexpected season.

About the contributor

Rose Lucas is a Melbourne poet, reviewer and academic. Her first collection, Even in the Dark (UWAP) won the Mary Gilmore award in 2014; her second collection was Unexpected Clearing (UWAP 2016). She is currently completing her third collection, This Shuttered Eye. In addition to poems published in many Australian journals and magazines, she has published a wide range of scholarly articles on women's poetry. She currently teaches in graduate research at Victoria University.

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