by Rose Lucas
Thoughts like leaves have hidden me tressed in the language of branch and twig the promise of bloom, its heady spring a grove has grown around me soft whisper of companions. elders and young. the tendrils of our roots twine we talk and listen through hours of dark. the swaying of seasons pungent heat of afternoons the remembered ripeness of my youth – its too easily perforated skin the sweet sap leached into time’s desiccations that sandy soil; All leaves do finally wither. and this rough bark of my body beautiful will be tapped like a vein so that memories cauled and bloody might stream into the breach still running - scribbled into this heart-heft of soil
In Metamorphoses, Ovid described the young Daphne, pursued by the god Apollo, requesting transformation in order to escape him:
a heavy numbness seizes her limbs, her soft breasts are girded by thin bark, her hair grows into foliage, her arms into branches, her foot, just now so swift, clings by sluggish roots, her face has the top of a tree: a single splendour remains in her. (lines 547-552)
There are many images which represent this youthful and desperate transformation, Bernini’s famous sculpture being only one of them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_and_Daphne_(Bernini) ). I wondered what it would have been like as the years went by, as Daphne grew into an established and aging tree. As an older woman myself, I wanted to explore the beauty and resilience – as well as the losses – that can be found precisely because of our passage through the many cycles of time.
Rose Lucas is a Melbourne poet and academic at Victoria University. Her first collection, Even in the Dark (UWAP 2013) won the Mary Gilmore Award; her second collection is Unexpected Clearing (UWAP 2016). She is currently completing her third collection, This Shuttered Eye. Her poems have been widely published in literary journals.