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Rebecca Jessen

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April 2015

EIGHTEEN (Carry Me Home)

For n.

When I run my fingers over her skin I see traces of the lives she has already lived, lives that I have never known – perhaps never will know. Her skin tells the stories of past loves, lovers that have been too quick, too rough. Stories of children gained and lost. Homes built and burned down.

When I look at her, when I really look, I see the toll it has taken to be one woman holding the weight of loss in the palms of her hands.

Sometimes I look at her looking at me and my hands want to pull at my shoulders and bring them in close. My head bows. I think she sees me too.

When I see myself through her, I see an intruder. Someone temporary. I see how much I need her and how consuming it is to be needed. I see how strong she is, yet delicate, how heavy a small bird is in the hand of another. I worry often about crushing her.

Sometimes at night, after she has fallen asleep beside me, I lie very still and fret about all the ways in which I do not belong. I worry that this life is not what she planned. But what is a life planned but a wish list that never ends.

I know she busies herself and fills her days to the brim in fear of what might happen if all her days were not full, if all her moments weren’t already promised away to the more needy. What would be left to confront? Not the day’s takings on her soul – but a question that dare not be asked.

The older I get the more sure I am, that we all have one question we spend our days, our lives, frantically – if not madly – dancing around. Only the very brave and broken dare stop their mad dance long enough to find out what their question is. And do they answer it?

When I sit with her, it is with the quiet acceptance that we are both still dancing around our lives in some strange, unacknowledged way. That we might continue to dance for some time to come – and that’s okay, as long as she continues to dance with me.

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News: Guest-blog, New poem & the AMP Tomorrow Fund

I’ve been a busy bee lately, writing guest-blogs and poems, so I thought I would take the chance to talk about it all in one post.

A little while ago the lovely Aussie author Jenn J McLeod got in touch with me after reading my article in WQ magazine. Jenn asked if I would like to participate in her Author Harvest guest-blog series. Jenn is the author of two novels with her third novel Season of Shadow and Light to be released May 1st this year. Her debut novel A House For All Seasons was the 5th bestselling debut novel in Australia in 2013. That’s pretty impressive! You can read more about Jenn and her achievements on her website.

On Jenn’s website you will also find my Author Harvest guest-post and a bunch of others from your favourite Aussie authors. Follow this link to read my post, and if you would like to win a signed copy of Gap be sure to leave a comment on the post!

In other news, the wonderful people at Mascara Literary Review have just released Issue 17 of their magazine. In Issue 17 you will find a wide array of poetry, fiction and reviews by some fabulous writers. You will also find my poem ‘The Late September Dogs’. You can browse the entire issue here and read my poem here.

Finally, as some of you may know, last year I was one of 47 incredibly lucky people to receive an inaugural AMP Tomorrow Maker grant which has allowed me to work on my next book without worrying (too much) about how I’ll pay the rent. The grant came at an important time for me and it has been a godsend in many ways. On top of this, the people at the AMP Foundation are some of the nicest folk you’ll ever meet. They have been incredibly supportive of my work and continue to help promote my writing.

I am telling you this because applications for this year’s AMP Tomorrow Fund have just opened and I would strongly encourage anyone with an idea for a project they need a little financial help achieving to apply for a grant. One of the many wonderful things about this program is its inclusivity. Anyone can apply, no matter your age or background, all you need is passion and a desire to make a difference, and of course, an idea! You can apply for grants between $10,000 and $100,000 and applications for the 2015 fund close at 4pm on May 14th. You can find out all about the AMP Tomorrow Fund here. And if you would like a little inspiration, or are just curious about the kind of projects that received funding last year, you can find out more here.

SEVENTEEN (Other People’s Houses)

Today I have the pleasure of bringing you a guest post by my lovely friend and fellow writer – Kathy George. Kathy and I first met at QUT while studying creative writing. We have since kept in touch and exchange writing from time to time. She blogs over at Dappled Dew and I’d encourage you to check out her blog and find some of her wonderful writing to read. Kathy’s piece ‘Other People’s Houses: Number 12 of Innumerable’ was inspired by a job she once had, going door-to-door checking the electoral roll and some of the things she saw! It’s a great piece, and one of the many things I admire about Kathy’s writing is her ability to evoke all the senses with lush, rich detail and observation of the world around us.

Under the Jacaranda - R Godfrey Rivers

IT’S DARK, but the front door is flung wide and moths and bugs flit in the yellow light. The Queenslander has a high-pitched roof and a wide verandah. It reminds me of drawings I did when I was a little kid—the door dead center, two sash windows either side. A winding garden path. It’s a cookies-and-milk-kind of house.

I adjust my satchel, clutch my book and pen to my chest, and pick my way up the path. Pink petunias on the left. An expanse of dark dewy grass to the right. A jacaranda in full bloom. A child’s red tricycle askew on the carpet of dusky purple.

As I mount the steps I hear voices. It’s nearly nine but I have only four houses left, and I press on. The front door opens into a dimly-lit living room with polished wooden floors and an oriental rug. A leather sofa, its back to the door, faces a plasma TV screen, and I hear moaning. I don’t knock. I hover, because over the sofa I can see what’s showing on the TV. In some other house, in some other cream-carpeted room with a leather sofa, a woman with long legs wearing stilettos is spread-eagled across the sofa’s back. Her hands are clenched, her nipples riding the leather. Behind her—jammed up against her—is a man wearing cowboy boots and a hat, nothing else. He’s cracking a whip. She’s doing the moaning.

I notice, then, I’m not alone. On the sofa in front of me, are two heads. Moving heads. Kissing heads. One of the heads disappears and then I hear a third noise, an unmistakable wet sound.

In the other house the man and woman have changed positions. She’s lying on the sofa and he’s hard at it, missionary style. With all the exertion his hat falls off, displaying a bald spot which shines in the light. They have a TV too, and I strain my neck to see what’s showing. It could be Seinfeld, that episode I missed. But it isn’t.

I ease back into the verandah’s darkness and lean against the wall’s cool wooden slats. In the road a man is walking his dog. A golden retriever. Silky smooth coat under the streetlight. Nails tacking on tarmac.

At the letterbox I wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans. There isn’t a forgotten letter in the box to act as confirmation, but I balance the electoral book across my knee, locate the names with my torch again because I’ve lost my place, and tick them off. I make a note there’s been an addition to the family. I don’t have to, but Stuart likes it if I do. And then I cross the nature strip and head over to the next house.

About Kathy

Kathy George blogs on writing and reading and anything that captures her attention. She holds a degree in creative writing from QUT and in 2011 was the winner of the QUT Writing Prize for undergraduates. She’s been published in the Australian literary journals Rex and Stilts and two Margaret River Press anthologies, and in 2013 was placed second in the Launceston, Tasmania, Literary Award. She’s been a QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program participant, and has an agent, and a manuscript under consideration with a publisher. She is currently at QUT completing an MFA in Gothic Literature. Sometimes her writing is published under the name K W George.

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