‘The Space Between/ She Ran’

Highly Commended competition FAWNS 2012


 ‘The Space Between/ She Ran’ by Victoria Norton


The space between here and there, and now and then, was captured by the brown, brown eyes of the small girl.

“She ran and ran. Railway tracks. Hurry and distance. Sleeping. Waking.”

She slipped in and out of yesterday, and today, and tomorrow, at will and sometimes not by her will, but by what happened anyway.

“Safety.  Fear. Carry her safely in your arms/ heart.”

If she could have the total control of the time and space she dreamt of, she would never go back to yesterday, she would ignore today, and stay in tomorrow.

“Step aside. Glide slide. Only one little part of who I am. Wrong song.”

The light changed from pastel pale pinks and mauves to bright green tinted with gold. She watched the space between the clouds for clues, as to how to make time go back to the pure and soothing pastel shades of pale pink.

“Blood red pain. Intrusion, confusion. Everything’s wrong.”

In the bright green day she wasn’t safe, and wasn’t able to slip and slide between the worlds. Only at night when the light dissipated, could she see in her mind where she needed to be, and aim for it and go there.

“Getting there and back. Night colors. Mothers quilt. Daytime fathers face.”

And she did, every night because the safety and security of the soft, warm colors let her. It was the colours that gave her the ability to step in and out, they were in control, and she needed the permission of the colors.

“Music in the colors. Choreographed dance of the little death.”

Never, never would the brilliant greens of the day, stolen from a parrot’s back, allow her to leave the here and now and go there, forward to where it was good. Instead that color pinned her, butterfly on a board, stretched out and held down.

“Broken, bent, changed.”

She had to wait for the softness of the night color, the hues of soft pink and mauve, which cradled her and soothed her, and let her go to the other place.

“Night colors. Mothers quilt. Daytime fathers face. Playful/ painful.”

The bright, bright light of the day held her tight, bound her and stapled her and stopped her breath. For it was only at night that she was full of clean fresh air.

“She ran.”    

Meaning Systems

Meaning Systems by Victoria Norton
Critical position, challenging, compelling
Worldly, world-wise, citizen of the world, not knowing of this world
Insulated bubble
Political and social views
Candid exchange
Listening to myself
Outside the square.


Refugees by Victoria Norton

Human rights, spiritual realities, confront

Questions, being and acting, shared

Concern for justice, freedom, responsibility and compassion

Contextual circumstances

Colonial roots, everyday issues

Conditions and plights, marginalised

Lack of respect, fear and mistreatment

Conservative, nationalistic

Turbulent, undermine dominant values

Equality and fairness

Political and legal pressures

Denied fair trials, indefinite detention.


Military-led, contradictory, uncertainty



Beatrice Fed the Ducks on Monday

Beatrice Fed the Ducks on Monday by Victoria Norton

Beatrice Ellington fed the ducks on Monday
Not bread that would clog their tiny stomachs and pollute the water
Instead, she tossed them salad greens picked from her garden.

Lettuce, spinach and nasturtiums.

Fiercely protective of all plants and critters
The complicated bio-network of unruliness where
She no longer planted or weeded.

She joyfully rubbed her hands together
When a new seedling poked its head above the untilled soil
She loved that the free growing plants attracted little creatures.

Insects, frogs and snails.

To practise her post-stroke speech
Beatrice carefully enunciated each word she spoke aloud
Like a child drilled in a spelling bee.

She pronounced the botanical names
She spoke with care, setting her face in a fixed position
So the drooping muscles that spoiled the symmetry of her face wouldn’t be so obvious to others.

‘Eastern water dragon lizard – Physignathus lesueurii; ‘
‘Millipede – Ommatoiulus moreleti;’
‘Strawberry –Rosaceae Frugaria.’

Beatrice collected wild growing dandelions
And milk thistles
On her gait-challenged walk to the creek.

On a rare day she’d fling the ducks
Tangled red composting worms
From the dank bin near the rainwater tank at the back of her house.

As usual, the raucous ducks peddled across the creek to greet her,
And like contestants in a dodgem car rally
They caromed off each other and onto the water’s edge.

She had not named the birds,
Yet she recognised each one by the pattern on their faces, and
Their rank within the group.

And she knew their family histories.
She particularly liked a small bird with a damaged wing,
An edge dweller somewhat ostracised from the group.

She felt empathy within her own damaged body.
On this Monday she threw grub-eaten spinach and gone-to-seed lettuce
As far as she could into the water with her palsied left arm.

She called her condition the ‘Accident’
To distance herself from owning it,
This awful thing that stole so much from her.

She was rueful in the knowledge
That trying to selectively feed the native ducks she called ‘Blackies’,
Had no effect on the proliferation and distribution of the non-indigenous Muscovys and Mallards.

Yet she was perversely persistent.

One time she hurled a rock into the creek
To frighten away the interlopers
But the swoosh and ripple made the ‘Blackies’ fly off too, and for a time she lost their trust.

Beatrice Ellington fed the ducks on Tuesday.

(Extracted from my short story of the same name).


‘The True Colour of Christmas is Blue’ by Victoria Norton


I say to you

The true colour of Christmas is Blue

You say to me

No, it’s red, no it’s green

It’s silver and gold, can’t you see?

I argue back to you

How do you know that is true?

For to me, this year and all those gone and all those to come

The colour of my Christmas is blue


No tinsel, no tree

No light, no sign so bright

No snow, no barbeque

No pudding, no cake

Will ever be true

The only thing of value is a toy, small fluffy and blue

From 1958

My Christmas bear, my teddy bear, soft and blue


Next Door

Next Door by Victoria Norton

Last week I heard your voices raised
I didn’t know if it was a party or a fight

So I made a cup of tea

The other day you left on your bike and revved the engine hard
I didn’t know if you were excited to leave for work or angry at having to go

So I buttered my toast

Yesterday you slammed your front door
I didn’t know if you were happy to be home or resentful at being there

So I poured another white wine

Last night the ambulance came and took your bruised wife away
Apparently she fell over the steps.
I didn’t know if she was running to you in joy or running away with fear

So I turned on my TV

This morning the police took you away
I didn’t know if it was embarrassment on your face or relief at being caught

So I stayed inside

Today I know I live in peace

T’was the Candlelight

T’was the Candlelight by Victoria Norton


T’was the candlelight what done it

Made the cad assault my person

Round as I am tall

Old as the hills and thrice divorced

Why else?


T’was the beer what made him do it

Made the rotter offer me free drinks

Of ale when it was

His ailing soul what needed sating

Why Else?


T’was the poetry what made him do it

Made him offer me money

For a simple act

Of unbridled passion

Why else?


Ah, no!


T’was his imagined power over me

What made him do it

And my telling him to take a hike made him leave

The power was mine after all

Why else?