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  • Published 20230502
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-83-2
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

Here are some other stories. I made my home at the outskirts of the temple complex, out of the way of the priests, but sitting where pilgrims could see me as they approached, a tin cup to catch coins, my body a warning and a promise. Or, I appeared unremarkable at my birth, until my bones began to grow in an impetuous fashion, torso clenching into a fist, pressing my heart and lungs into a space too small. Or, I survived, but in a remote cave, smudged with a mystical bitterness, visited by other outcasts, whose hands reached out to touch my hunched back for prophecy or consolation. Or maybe I was never born, the prenatal test results causing a look of concern on the doctor’s face which my mother couldn’t resist falling into. I have to tell you these things that never happened – or what happened to others like me, and will happen again – before I can think of what did. For too long, I have felt alone in this body. The past, an inaccessible crypt. The future, a mirage.

There are many ways to carry a story. My father smothered his stories with bravado. Here he is, laughing at the sea drenching him on the deck. There he is, shoving money at the doctor to cure his dying mother. Another time, his chest deflated when the nurse reached for the pink blanket. His survival was never one step at a time. It was the leap, the stumble, the fall. Another form of inheritance. When my home was a hospital for too many nights, he left the visits to mother. I felt her walk the corridor towards me. She said, you know your father. I knew him. His struggle to tell another story of scarred shame.

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About the author

Andy Jackson

Andy Jackson’s latest poetry collection is Human Looking, which won the 2022 ALS Gold Medal. He has co-edited disability-themed issues of Southerly and Australian Poetry...

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