Almanac Poetry: Brother and Sister


Private Thomas Scrimgeour, AIF, 29th Australian Infantry Battalion, died of wounds, France, 23 July 1916. (Source: Australian War Memorial collection.)


Brother and Sister

i.m Thomas Scrimgeour and his sister Elizabeth, my great-grandmother


There’s the studio portrait
of Thomas, a great granduncle,
in Australian Imperial Forces garb,
hands behind back, upright, strong,
gazing at the camera lens.
He poses in front of a backdrop
depicting a camp of army tents
under wispy, optimistic skies.


Six months later Thomas died of wounds
as a German POW,
shot through the lungs,
lost in the maelstrom of Fromelles.
Fritz, a great bookkeeper,
recorded his death for posterity.


.     .     .


I never met Elizabeth,
his sister.
She died in a distant country town
when I was eight.
The only memory I possess
is my family waiting outside her house
– I must have been about five.
Someone eventually knocked on the door,
but there was nobody home.



(Acknowledgement: a version of this poem originally appeared in Lionheart Summer, Picaro Press, 2011; reprinted by Ginninderra Press, 2018.)



Read more from Kevin Densley HERE

Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, is available HERE

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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Those old photos have a certain poignancy which no Instagram pic will ever capture

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Certainly, Smokie – so often, the men in them look so young and vulnerable.

  3. Really like the tone of these poems Kevin. Very under stated but powerful.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Dips.

    As one gets older, one has more clarity about how much this WW1 generation (and the period itself) influenced those that followed.

    And I’m thinking of collecting all my war poems into a single book, too – I think they belong between covers together, rather than spread out across various collections – and there’s a few still unpublished, also.

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