The children have grown

One day you look around and find that there are children who have grown monstrously large. They run but are lopsided. They grow silent in ways that seem to influence time. You are unsure that it is the right thing to do but you sniff socks, and open lunchboxes. The clues are scant, until you discover chat rooms that offer advice—the child is a magnet seeking its little earth, the lodestone that will secure its weight to the world. In the next phase the child will put on a mask. You are prepared. You know now not to use the little sewing scissors on the elastic at the back. The child must be the first to indicate whether they are staying in or coming out. You feel more confident and start to relax, until it hits you—where did these children come from? Who had them before you?

Rachel O’Neill is a writer and artist who lives in Paekākāriki on the Kapiti Coast. Her debut collection of poetry One Human in Height was published by Hue & Cry Press in 2013. She recently completed the six-week inaugural International Residency Programme at RM gallery in Auckland where she worked on a selection of film-based projects, including a graphic essay that she is developing into an animated video.

O’Neill comments: ‘Sometimes I’ll just be sitting uselessly at the table and I’ll feel suddenly responsible for all things, just like in Bill Callahan’s song “I feel like the mother of the world”. Sometimes I also feel like I’m the parent of the world who has all along been a child. Or a child who is not a parent but has the responsibilities of one. When I imagine future generations, I hope that people will be linked even more radically by multiplicity. People will be more different, perhaps more comfortable with difference, and also have even more in common at the same time, perhaps be more comfortable with what they have in common. At present all I know is that if one’s (inner or outer) child shows up one better be ready!’

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