Published in Overland Issue 205 Summer 2011 Uncategorized Mary: A Fiction Eileen Chong [E]ither destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast it off when born Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792 No light streamed through the shutters when I woke this morning. I knew you had taken root this past night. I felt a curious quickening of my womb – with Fanny, I’d thought it the low anger of the crowds roiling in the streets, or the dull pull of hunger in the orange days of summer. I left the warm bed and your father, crossing the room in bare feet. My pamphlet read: Men ought to maintain the women whom they have seduced. At my desk in my nightclothes I wondered: What manner of child might you become, born of the coupling of minds as much as bodily passions between man and woman not bound by church or ritual but by poetry, argument and love? I imagine your violent entry, your searing cry, your relentless suckle at my breast. If you be female, I shall name you Mary. Perhaps when there are enough of us, Mary, we shall call the sky, the seas, the stars, the moon into being: we shall write of something that is wholly woman. We shall create without man. In my mind’s eye I see your perfect, infant fingers curl around a pen. Eileen Chong Eileen Chong is an Australian poet. She is the author of eight books. Her next collection of poetry, A Thousand Crimson Blooms is forthcoming from UQP in April 2021. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation. www.eileenchong.com.au More by Eileen Chong Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 27 January 2023 Cartoons In attacking us, they bring us together Sam Wallman 'What these bosses don't understand is that in attacking us, they bring us together.' (Paddy Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Svitzer Rally November 2022) 2 First published in Overland Issue 228 24 January 202325 January 2023 Aotearoa / New Zealand The end of the politics of care Giovanni Tiso The daily spectacle of televised briefings was not unique to New Zealand, and it may simply be the case that Ardern thrived when given the opportunity to speak to the public directly—in other words, that she was better than others at it. Alternatively, we could say that her rhetoric found in the pandemic the ground on which to turn into concrete action. Either way, the benefits we derived in terms of lives saved from the remarkable extension of that social license are literally incalculable.