• Phoebe Wilby

Where I’m From …



I am from a small green clapboard house by a boat ramp with a huge garage where the billiards table lives, where we play with the soldier crabs at low tide, clinging to Granddad’s hand, baby feet running through the bubbles of sand, anxious that they won’t feast on my toes, mud on the feet of my baby grow.


I am from hot buttered Vegemite toast and chocolatey Milo, from breakfast in bed and whiskery Granddad kisses, from being tossed in the air and caught in a bear hug, squealing with delight.


I am from the lilac Jacaranda and the crimson Poinsettia – heat from the sun releasing warm fragrances that are both soothing and exhilarating. I am from the Moreton Bay Fig from whose lofty branches I observe my world - the horses, cows, chickens; the floor of the hay barn – all that remains. Bees living in their man-made shelter, feast on clover and strawberries and passionfruit climbs the verandah from where we sit and watch God’s light-show as His chariot wheels spark and rumble on the Heavenly roads.


I am from Stephanie and John, Doris and Richard, Barbara and Bert, writers, warriors, artists, musicians the Delahoydes and Hammonds, Frankcoms and Bullises. I am from the piano that travelled from England, teaching me the songs of my mothers, and my father’s mothers.


I am from the oranges and plums in the toe of my Christmas stocking, the Christmas pyjamas, the cowgirl outfit, the paint by numbers, sailor boy and girl, learning to swim.


I am from Christmas days on the beach, lobster red and scuffed by salt and sand, yet somehow relaxed, repaired, revived.


I am from the fruit trees growing in my tummy from eating apple seeds, and from the smoke from Granddad’s pipe that always follows beauty.


I am from a royal realm. My father is a King, my mother, His Queen. I am a princess in disguise, proving my heritage, relying on my big brother to help me, yearning to return home – but not yet, please, with so much to learn, so much to give.


I'm from Queensland and the Queen’s land, simultaneously at one with the crashing surf of a sun-drenched land and with the rolling green of the Cotswold and the warehouses along the Thames. I am from Edinburgh, a refuge from the Blitz; old houses on farms and city houses that have made way for car parks.


I am from fish and chips on Fridays, mince on toast, jaffles of Heinz spaghetti oozing cheese, and Chicken A La King with rice. I am from warm, juicy mangoes, watermelons like rugby balls on steroids, sticky faces and contented sighs.


I am from the lady in the carriage who left without her son, and the son who took his wife from Scandinavia to England, and from England to Australia to live on the Downs and create his own legacy; from the thirteen year old boy who sailed with his parents. I am from the sister who paid for her brother, his wife and son to sail to Australia on the Quetta, which deposited them safely, yet promptly sank a scant two years later.


I am from shoe boxes full of memories, scrap books of treasures, photos scanned to discs, family hanging on walls, from trinkets and bells, and knitted bears, priceless artefacts of no monetary value yet taken as a whole become the treasure that is me.

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© 2015 by Phoebe Wilby.