Circa 1885

Two women with their backs to the camera, the silk of an umbrella taut and smooth. One pushes a pram over tussocky grass, her bustle a series of swales. Her companion wears black, skirt held clear of her feet with the same left hand that holds her reticule or dilly bag. In her gloved right hand, the umbrella handle. Many women captured in the street photography of Arthur K. Syer carry umbrellas against the sun. The expressive inclination of their covered heads suggests the two are talking as they walk through what Michael Sharkey called “the strange new world of post-invasion arrivals”. A possible fenceline, raw sapling posts. The wires can’t be seen in the photograph, or have not yet been strained. It must be near midday, their shadows are tucked neatly beneath the step they are about to take. On the horizon, a small dark shape. An uncleared tree? A woman without umbrella?

Ali Jane Smith


Ali Jane Smith is a poet. She lives in Wollongong.

 © 2017