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“Hello, I’m Meera Atkinson and I’m reading from my novel in progress, Luna Alaska. The reading starts with an excerpt from the narrator’s old diary.
A memory of nothing remembered today and fear found me and felled me and left me alone with my end before them all sudden and strange and weak. What is it? What is it? Why now and where is he?
Lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman quite.
I have been her kind (Anne Sexton)
What is it and why now?
My mother? She came to lunch and then this. She spreads herself like a virus. Why can’t she stay inside herself? The letter? I hate him and wait for him.
The princess has had a fright
Madness seeks out the lover (Velvet Underground)
The mysterious panic of the morning echoed, its sensations flickering in the distance, her mother, the letter, hallucinations just out of sight. She showered and dressed (in black), then drew eyeliner across her lids and red lipstick over her lips. She was hungry but she needed him more than food so she walked to his door, along his street with its fairy lights and stray cats and houses lit by unknown lives.
He opened the door, smiled a sad nervous smile and kissed the red off her lips. She followed him down the hall to his room, remembering the dream of the baby as he moved close. The words of the clichéd damned letter returned like an incantation, fresh and loud. She hunted in his eyes and sniffed the air around him for any ghosting of her, his other city lover, her or someone like her, any her. This multitude surrounded them, came between them and erased her so that she could no longer feel his touch.
Later she lay in the dark song-filled room, looking out the window where the curtain waved like a ballerina’s hand. There was a moon and she thought of her mother. She closed her eyes and pictured Alaska, imagined flying over crystal fjords, like Sexton’s possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, doing her hitch over the plain houses, light by light, only over the houseless ice and the humpback whales breaching along the Arctic coast, from day into night, over the lightless white and the frozen forests and woodlands and the banks of glacial lakes. She soared above the Great Land, faster than presence and quieter than absence, a trickster state of being.”
ABOUT MEERA ATKINSON:
Meera Atkinson is a widely published Sydney-based writer and poet and a PhD candidate in the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. Her project is a creative and theoretical exploration of the transgenerational transmission and poetics of trauma. Meera was awarded a 2011 Griffith REVIEW GREW prize for non-fiction.
Meera is also a member of Theories of Everything with Gregory Atkinson (ex Ups and Downs and Big Heavy Stuff) and Thomas Ashelford (ex Big Home Orchestra and Ashtray Boy):
“I spent a peaceful and productive week at Varuna, residency courtesy of the UWS Writing and Society Research Centre in November 2011, my first stay being several years ago. Varuna is the writerly fantasy come to life: a beautiful, quiet, totally supported place to write and ponder.” Meera Atkinson
Meera’s writing has appeared in many publications, including Salon.com, Meanjin, Best Australian Stories 2007 and Best Australian Poems 2010. She has been a regular contributor to Griffith REVIEW since its beginnings.
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