‘Visceral’ collected the prize allocated by the YWCA (Hunter Region) for the she: true tales Ordinary & Extraordinary short story competition.
The project was run in conjunction with a short story and photographic portrait competition aligned with a series of workshops to complement the competition.
The story was read aloud at the launch of the project, on 1233 ABC Newcastle and at the exhibition launch.
The story and accompanying photographic portrait were exhibited at the Lovett Gallery between February 14 and March 22, 2014.
You can access more of Sandra’s work via her website (http://www.sandraognibenephotography.com.au/) or Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SandraOgnibenePhotography).
The project was an initiative of the YWCA Hunter Region in partnership with the Newcastle Region Library and the Hunter Writers Centre.
Her pain is not visceral like those she tends. It is cloaked, deep, invisible. From delirious exhaustion she brings order and builds a bridge of relief to cross a river of agony. She wanders sterile corridors bright with conceited light. The impenetrable walls conceal the secrets of nature, but the smell of antiseptic doesn’t silence the soundtrack to her toils.
Groans of agony pierce the air as she enters the darkened room. She watches, attends, encourages. Then from a crescendo of distress flows a torrent of affection, protection, love. Her spirit lifts. A soul safe, she leaves that place.
A ray glints from a stainless steel blade. Sharp and precise; a sculptors chisel. Experience, intuition and science align to become art. A creative act; crimson wells from a slashed canvas. The scalpel carves a line of silent concentration. To howls of outrage, a new life is manoeuvred into the brilliant but frigid world. Mother and child safe.
And when the hour of midnight passes, at home, her own child wakes. She doesn’t hear the call but feels the moment’s loss. Insomnia is the price paid to help another who may otherwise never hear that cry. In her absence; a life would pass.
At times, she sees the body. Tiny, blue, lifeless. Cuddled close, as heart wrenching sobs replace bottomless howls. She feels the pain. She cradles those feelings, then seals them in a lead-lined box and buries them deep. To protect herself. To protect those close. Even helpers have pain. The dull ache of empathy, the sorrow of sympathy. She sees the grief, and suffers too.
The path she treads is shaded by light and dark. It is a trail she helps to maintain, so others can follow. For those once turned away, shunned, there is now a clear direction mapped. Roles, once inaccessible, are no longer abject to male expectations.