In memory Gertrud Kauders

by Rose Lucas

Gertrud Kauders, © reproduced with permission of Simon During and the estate of Gertrud Kauders
I leave my heart inside these walls         where lathes are being nailed 
together     cross-hatched tapestries of shape            embedded
inside the    hopeful   substance     of this emerging house     that says at least
a kind of       permanence      a shelter in this rising
cacophony            I trust to a plaster that smooths       & joins     
& makes a        smiling face          to shield
a hidden world of dust     its quiet & coiled spiders     where
sunlight never comes & seasons roll on by
I must learn to          imagine this place that holds    for now   all the colours
I have seen        & thought about                     the broad swathe   
the softness of pink     & yellow          light on 
naked skin     the delicacy       of nipple         each canvas folded
carefully    into silence       sealed &              alive
in this airless space                   swirl of colour &
form     boldness of eyebrow          holding them
safe                my watching eyes          my labours       of pencil & brush &
palette        tracing the lines of     the everyday or
the expressions that    flicker    transient   across a human face
this world I love         inside my eyes                                                 
           these pages of my      pounding         tearing life 

I was very moved to read on fb about the amazing recent ‘find’ of the hidden works of Gertrud Kauders. Kauders was a Czech artist & Jew who was murdered by the Nazis in 1942. However, before her arrest, she managed to conceal 700 of her artworks inside the walls of her friend’s house in Prague; they were only discovered in 2018. I can only imagine the both the distress and the hopefulness she must have felt as she tried to find safety for her art in a world in which she herself was not safe.

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.

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