Adèle Ogiér Jones
There’s a little house in a street formed long ago Running to Dandenong Road, not far from the old state school There a century and its half, the original hidden by portables now. I call the house mine, though the land belonged to others before, To Boon wurrung people long since departed and with them The Yalukit-Willam clan travelling up from the coast Through acacia and red gums to their home And land, forgotten in the years Before Crown records. There’s a name on a title, old and yellowed with age An original, no longer found on slick, blue printouts Verifiable, this certificate of title under Land Transfer Act County of Bourke, but no mention of the Boon wurrung. Typed words show the purchaser of land Crown claimed, From Gippsland a Sarah Tackaberry by name Entitled as spinster, now estate proprietor Signature formed with care to transfer All to her. A woman of Yarragon it shows and delving begins, A woman of means, who never lived here but dreamt perchance Seeing market gardens established through heathland, A business to suit tastes of those yearning flowers Grown in far homelands, vegetables in soils different From her own further south, so I search her, This Tackaberry woman purchaser from Gippsland, Independence and foresight Nineteen twenty-nine. Irish parents from Wexford, arrived with family already Two joined British against Boers, others decorated In later wars, two never to return but remembered. From Echuca to Darnum, then her birth at Buln Buln Where she watched farmers collect mail coming through, Sad as father died young, yet glad to see her mother With women first to vote, a staunch Red Cross worker Publishing her son’s letters From the Front. Stepping in her mother’s footsteps, honouring siblings Joining other junior supporters of Red Cross And in following years with 1918 flu outbreak The one called Spanish which fled across borders She focused with intent reading reports Declaring it careless of climatic conditions, Physicians wrote of incidence in far rainless Egypt As well as their own rainy Gippsland Now under threat. There’s a name on an old title in the very first line Of a woman from Gippsland, who history may forget A woman they called Girlie, though she lived to grand 96 Never married, no offspring, but I see her photo In print, the Weekly Times from the 50s, her CWA years With many more stories Yarragon people can tell. So I draft this tale for I found her standing on land Which was others Long before we signed our names.
Adele is a Melbourne poet who works internationally, and so often longs for Victoria, Australia. She has five collections of poetry, with the latest, Following Rivers in Trees now published by Ginninderra Press. Published in numerous e-journals and print anthologies, Adele’s recent poems include a trilogy on works of Swiss artist Anni Zindel – From the Attic, In the Atelier, At the Gallery (Picaro Poets, 2021).