by Kim Kelly
IF PHOTOGRAPHS COULD TALK
What would this one say? It looks like a Depression-era snapshot of some ordinary, struggling family.
But it’s my family. My dad, Charlie, is the young fellow on the left gazing whimsically out of the picture with what appears to be a fly on his face. My grandfather is handsome; my grandmother is disappointed. And little Johnny is calculating his future golfing handicap.
They lived in Coogee, near the beach. Certainly a nice place to be a bit broke, sometime in the mid-1930s.
I saw this photo for the first time last night, my brother, Mark, on a flying visit, whipping it out of his wallet and asking, ‘Have you seen this one?’ I hadn’t, and I fell in love with it instantly, dancing round the kitchen bench trying to get a good focus on my phone.
All of them are gone now. And not gone at all while I’m alive and wondering who they were. How the sand might have felt between their toes, what awful meal Nana had on for dinner (she was the worst cook), how long Pop stayed in the surf that day, avoiding going home (he was the worst husband). Dad practising his modified cursive (for what would become the most beautiful handwriting ever); Johnny scribbling on the front page of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with a crayon (I still have that book with my uncle’s early masterwork, cherished). Nana knowing, if she could just find her chance in this man’s world, her art and style would clothe every woman in Sydney.
Dreams that echo somehow atomically through me. Whispers of stories that make up my own.