after Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

It took me two days to see the legs, I kept
looking and not finding them. This gave me a thrill –
the world getting on with life, no one
standing still to fete and grieve
a narcissist who wanted too much sun.
I had forgotten it was one of those myths
the big boys have well and truly picked over;
Jack Gilbert going for a glass half full
and forgetting the fall entirely.
When I remembered Auden and Williams
I didn’t want to write my poem anymore,
I put it away, though I now think
there’s still something to say. I see joy:
we all at the centre of our own lives,
a dignified lot for the ploughman, the shepherd,
the washerwoman. And I bet the big boys reached
between their shoulder blades to check
their wax was solid. They praise the lack
of limelight in the frame but I hear
in their words it unnerves them. For most,
life is a landscape we navigate;
it is rare to sit for a portrait.

Lisa Brockwell


Lisa Brockwell lives on a rural property near Byron Bay, New South Wales, with her husband and young son. She was runner-up in the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize in 2015. Her first collection, Earth Girls (Pitt Street Poetry 2016), was commended in the Anne Elder Award.


© 2017