on The Bar by Melbourne artist John Brack
This is not Edouard Manet’s Paris
Not that white marble bar, un bar aux Folies-Bergère
with that peachy round, velvet-corseted young woman
soft unseen hands of a lacy courtesan
on display with the pale pink roses and juicy mandarins
facing the elegant 19th C chandeliered room
and her gentleman admirers.
No this is Brack’s Bar
Melbourne in the fifties
when the Collins Street mob
have knocked off
to schooner themselves
’til six o’clock and home.
Squared and angular this woman is omnipotent
A working mother with dark shadowed eyes
she offers nothing more than serving drinks
and mopping up the mess men leave behind
working stoical hands planted on the bar ready
ready for action, ready for anything, coping
giving nothing but her labour
can’t complain, who’d listen ?
But those spring poppies playful
in that over ripe womb vase
they are a future hope of things to come
alive and real they belong to her
and she will take them home.