Type
Poetry
Category
Poetry

Stick insects

In the dream I give birth to twins but they aren’t human: they are small spindly creatures
a lot like stick insects. When I am discharged from hospital we take them out to the car
and I put them in the baby capsules. The baby capsules have been installed by your friend
from California. The one who I met when he came to Australia to be your best man at our
wedding. The skinny one with very long hair and a pink paisley tie.
I am trying to put the harness around each of their tiny stick waists and wondering
how it will hold them when I realise the long-haired best man hasn’t fitted the baby
capsules properly. I will have to take both of the stick insect babies in the front seat with
me and hold one in each hand. I try to pinch their tiny stick waists tightly between two
fingers. But not too hard in case they snap.
We are now in a crowded restaurant and somehow I have dropped the babies so we
are crawling around on the floor trying to find them. We do this frantically for a long time,
finding a way through all of the people and under the furniture. Then I have them again
but I am still scared of losing them, so scared.
Sure enough I am looking right at them in my hands when they disintegrate into a fine
sand-like substance which blows away. I am looking at my empty hands. When I wake up
I think that is a bit cliché: not that a skinny friend with a paisley tie came from California
to fit our baby capsules—that bit was quite original—but how many dreams must end
with empty hands?

 

 

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Elizabeth Allen is a poet and short story writer based in Sydney where she also works as a bookseller at Gleebooks. Her work has found frequent publication in well-respected journals and anthologies both in Australia and overseas, including Cordite, Ajar, Bodega, Overland, Southerly, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, and SAND. The author of two poetry collections, Body Language (Vagabond Press, 2012) and Present (Vagabond Press, 2017), Elizabeth won the Dame Leonie Kramer Prize in 2001 and the Anne Elder Award in 2012.

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