Outskirts online journal

Diane Beckingham

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Volume 1, May 1996

A Colonial Family

In my wild, erotic fancy

visions come to me, in colour

of this gentle governess

we'll call her Charlotte M.

engaged for Sarah, Anna and 'our Jane'

who're coyly mounted sidesaddle

in stiff black riding habits

bambazine bows on high-necked bodices

while the lean aboriginal groom

stands suitably apart.

In the eucalypt backdrop

a dog teases a possum

Mater and Pater look on

property and propriety are preserved.

Now in 1860, Charlotte was painted there

part of the scene, if not the family

a few years later, Charlotte was no longer there

a few brush strokes had painted her out.

In the 1900's, Charlotte is back

revealed by an eager restorer

who stripped away the veneer.

Did she become, as they might say

"overly familiar with the natives"?

Did a wisp of hay fall from her hair

or a flake of dung drop from her heel?

I fancy she broke the taboos of family tableaux

- I like to fancy she had no regrets. 


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