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‘How too weird’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2021

Gerri Kimber
Affiliation:
University of Northampton
Todd Martin
Affiliation:
University of Huntington, Indiana
Christine Froula
Affiliation:
Northwestern University, Illinois
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Summary

[Reading Mansfield in Arohata Women's Prison]

A pet weta is what

I remember most

About Her First Ball

we were locked in

the library, a small

reading group

mixed age, race and

crimes unknown

or perhaps withheld

assuming that fiction

put us all on an equal

footing – momentarily

I chose Her First Ball

not entirely at random

but our readings were

unplanned, out loud

in turns, in no

particular order ever

what surprised me

How too weird

was the secret insect

snugly tucked inside

her collar, like the wisps

of tissue in Laurie's gloves

the girl with the short

cropped hair, tattoos

and a hidden weta, she

seemed to ride the cab

to the ball with Laurie

and the Sheridan girls

she might have been

Leila shivering with delight

her eyes bright with it

her lips glistening as

she checked her neck

before dancing free

with the fat man

in her imagination

and for a moment

I became one of the

old dears, my short fat

arms in nice black velvet

my dancing days over

in thrall to this fictional

ball, the girl and her weta

across the slippery floo

ran unexpected radiance

I doubt either of us

would ever know each other

again

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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