Drysdale: Vaucluse, 1945
Ern, the drover’s wife is your analogue on canvas. Unfair?,
perhaps, but she too is a 1940s fiction of a real
Australia, product of the same modernism that inspires
your invention – though Drysdale’s more earnest in his outback
portraits than your co-creators are. Her husband waters
a pair of unyoked horses, meanwhile she’s all foreground, too
substantial, monumental, for a landscape shrunk
around, no longer wild. You, too, an iron-ore dream
in that tonal vernacular, a rendering à la Drysdale – grave, uneasy –
posing on a low wall in Dalmar Street. The brushstroke repeats.
Your gaze beneath the hat-brim inscrutable: still
the black swan, the dark reflection on darker waters.
Thom Sullivan’s poems have appeared in The Best Australian Poems, Australian Love Poems, and Australian Book Review. His manuscript Carte Blanche won the 2017-18 Noel Rowe Poetry Award. He lives in Adelaide, where he works in public policy.