Almanac Poetry: Wedding Party Photograph: the Marriage of Lucy Jane R— to Edward Thomas P—, the town of P—, South Australia, December 20th, 1905

 

Wedding Party Photograph: the Marriage of Lucy Jane R— to Edward Thomas P—, the town of P—, South Australia, December 20th, 1905

 

Henry R—,
my great-great grandfather,
farmer, publican,
world traveller,
looks a million pounds,
immaculately groomed
in his stylish suit,
smiling, bow tie,
flower in lapel,
fob watch nestled in pocket.
Next, his wife, Mary Jane,
slender, serious,
wears a striking long dress
patterned with circular shapes.
Its dominant colour?
Dark blue? Chartreuse?
No way of telling in black-and-white.
Did she buy the dress in Paris
when her and Henry
attended the Exposition?

 

Then great-great Aunt Martha P—,
destined for spinsterhood,
slump-shouldered and glum
next to her brother,
great-great Uncle Billy,
with his sad droopy moustache.
He spent much of the First World War,
judging by his army record,
giving cheek to his superiors.

 

Next to him is the bride,
Lucy, my great-grandmother,
daughter of Henry and Mary Jane,
pretty, dark-haired, innocent-eyed,
seven decades younger
than the shrunken ninety-year-old I knew
in the country hospital dementia ward.
Then, of course, the groom,
my great-grandfather, Ted,
who died before I was born,
showing the camera
a smug expression;
spoon player, ballroom dancer,
billiard parlour owner.

 

Then fourteen-year-old Maud,
my great-grandmother’s sister,
pianist and singer;
highly strung and eccentric,
according to family tradition.
She’s holding an enormous bouquet.
Two years before, played a silver-winged fairy
in her school pageant.
Three years later was married,
giving birth to her first child.
A dozen more years and four more kids,
till one day she left her marital home
with the youngest and a suitcase
that she could barely carry.
Next, her brother Fred, aged twenty,
dapper like his father,
married and running a pub
in red dust near the Goyder line
within two years.

 

After Fred, Bridget,
my Irish great-great-grandmother,
smiling, a big woman, motherly.
With Bridget,
great-great grandfather William,
the local ranger, well-known breeder
of prize-winning hens and roosters.
His suit does not fit well,
he isn’t wearing a tie
and his shoes could do with a polish.

 

Finally, in the front,
flower girl Ella,
smiling sweetly, an intelligent face;
niece of Nathaniel B—,
the greatest footballer
to pull on a boot in the town’s history.
Nat MC’d the dances
held in the Institute Hall;
indeed, he did likewise
at this wedding reception.
He died twenty-two years later
from a heart attack while discussing
the fortunes of the local team.
He thought he had indigestion.

 

 

(Acknowledgement: first appeared in my fourth poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, Ginninderra Press, South Australia. 2020.)

 

 

 

Read more from Kevin Densley HERE

 

Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws…I’m Feeling Too Indolent, is available HERE

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, was published in late 2023 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.

Comments

  1. Barry Nicholls says

    Great story telling Kevin.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Barry. I find family history particularly fascinating.

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