Inspired by the abstract portrait ‘Virginia Woolf’ by visual artist Kirsten Farrell
Veiled in muslin,
intellect like a steel ribbon.
Reaching up for new words, you fought the weight of your father;
grappling with the old rigour, energy, dominance,
insanity. You pored over the Odyssey as a girl,
never suspecting the birds would later sing to you in Greek.
‘I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in
Was it death, or life, dragged you under?
Ouse was the name of your last river,
Ophelia’s your grand gesture:
lying white as lilies on the bottom,
failing, like sunlight over empires.
from Mapless in Underland, Ginninderra Press, 2004