So often reproduced and yet
the message so elusive.
John Woodcock Graves the younger,
lawyer, writer, poet, ‘friend’,
is standing high beside her,
not quite profile, looking down,
frock coat reaching to his knees.
also known as Lalla Rookh,
is sitting in a stiff-backed chair,
the lines of which her long-sleeved, white
Victorian dress obscure.
What looks to be a scarf with tassles
reaches to her knees;
it’s white as well, her captors’ colour.
She’s thought to be the last, she knows —
of interest to Science.
She knows too that related women
are living in Bass Strait with sealers.
Graves, it’s said, was genial,
learnèd and eccentric,
something of a sketcher and
a well-known greyhound breeder.
Although the photograph’s undated
some say it’s 1876
and just three months away
from Truganini’s death
and five from that of Mr Graves
at only forty-seven.
But all of this is mere description.
It doesn’t read the code between them:
Graves, full-height, arms folded,
pensive, sad and somewhat
Truganini with her hands
clasped across her lap.
Her woman’s eyes are wary embers;
they blaze at her ‘protector’’s belly.
Are the two of them aware
their photograph must prove symbolic?
Truganini knows her bones
will be displayed and sent to London;
she cannot know her ashes
will take just on a century
to regain D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
Graves knows too that he is powerless
for all his knowledge of the law.
He can’t foresee, we must assume,
his own death is so imminent.
Each knows, but in a different way,
the moment of this moment.
The future’s sepia already.
In response to John Woodcock Graves the younger [with] Truganini,
Photographer unknown, Date unknown. Sepia toned, 15 x 10 cm Collection: Allport
Library and Museum of Fine Arts.
- 102: GAMESUBMIT with J Maxwell and R Green 101: NO THEME 10COMING SOON with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones