New prose by Finn Morgan, “Home Enough”



CW: abuse mention (child)

A peach morning, shards of grass sneaking into the sidewalk, branches swaying dull and dead. I arrive at the building gate and I am shaking, shaking still; should have kept the winter coat. I call the number saved from the last round of search scrolls and feigned phone pep. The concierge answers: “I’ll be right there!”

I am courteous, perform norm, stand straight and feminine, chuckling at a stray comment on tattoos and irresponsibility; be in-group, be in-group, be in-group to get what you need.

In the elevator, unmoving, with steady smiles. My tired eyelids linger closer shut with each rumble conveying us up, up. I hear the crash and the sobbing; the anxious adrenaline snaps me to wake. Concierge and I meet glances and she, with a light nod, softens her smile. The elevator sounds at the 22nd. “It’s right over this way,” she says, pointing, as the door rolls slowly open.

The hall is well-lit but there are scuffs on the wall. From neighbours? Is the building not maintained? How much can I afford to care? How much does care cost?
Concierge fidgets the key and jerks the door. A good lock. The apartment inside is fine. Nice view. Thick walls. Clean enough. Big enough. Enough is enough sometimes. Concierge points out the kitchenette, the fridge, the bathroom, the balcony. I remove my coat as we look around. I yawn and I hear a small sniffle as we head towards the bedroom.

The concierge gets a call. Issue on the 4th, will be right back.

I don’t expect the shaking and unsettled breathing to leave with her but I am still disappointed when it doesn’t. I open the room door, feel empty. I close my eyes, knowing exactly what will appear: a child with thick ringlets, crouched and sniffling in the corner of the open closet. This child lives in every empty room I visit. Ever since our first room was emptied. I know them well. Sometimes they tell me when I need to leave, sometimes they just need to be held. I am tired and this room is wide enough, sunny enough, so I tell them:

“She won’t find you here.”

“But what if she does?”

“There are locks on the door.”

“But you’ll still hear her.”

“We’ll drown her out.”


“Music. The Shower. However we can.”

“And what if we can’t?”

“We’ll survive.”

“I’m still scared.”

“I know. Me too.”

“What do we do?”

“What we can.”

“Will it be enough?”

“It has to be.”

When Concierge returns I ask to start the paperwork. Home is wherever I’m without you.


this prose by Finn Morgan, “Home Enough,” was inspired by the art of Christine Kim 

On Silence and Domestic Abuse


I was fifteen years old when she told me for the first time. I had asked her how she was doing. She looked squarely into my eyes, which look exactly like hers, and said words that she would go on to repeat many times: “I am waiting to die.” She said it in her usual way: tired yet hard and brazen. No tremble, no sadness. Defiant eyes. She didn’t say it to complain, or to illicit pity. (Though that’s what the others sometimes said about her.)

Most grandchildren don’t expect to hear that kind of language. Not me. I was fairly certain I knew why she said it. I knew about the angry welts on her body from his hands. I had been there once as a small child when he grabbed her by the hair and smashed her head toward the corner of the wooden cabinet. It was the last thing I saw before she pushed me out of the room and closed the door with her falling weight. I knew that she had been the sole breadwinner her whole life, working manual labour to put food on the table, to pay for her children’s school fees, to unwillingly fund his addictions to gambling and prostitutes, cigarettes and alcohol. (This later came to include funding his child support payments for those illegitimate children that we didn’t talk about but whose mouths were also fed by her hard work.) These, after all, had been the constant realities of my life as I flitted in and out of their home, not quite innocent enough to escape their burning silences but thankfully spared from the fits of rage and violence that I knew existed underneath. But I still had to ask her “Why?” to hear it from her own lips.

“Because my health is clearly worse than his, and at this rate, the only way I will find peace away from him is when I’m gone.” She was in her mid-seventies at this point.

“But if what you want is to be free of him, isn’t there anything we can do other than wait? Can’t you get a divorce? Can’t you move out and stop living with him?” I asked. Visions of my grandmother as I had never known her, happy and carefree, danced before me.

“There’s no point.” She seemed instantly to regret saying anything, shooing away my questions and telling me that I wouldn’t – couldn’t – understand. There was too much I didn’t know. In my teenage mind, I felt patronized. What was she keeping from me?  

I asked my mother. I asked my aunts. I got mixed responses. From “We’ve tried. We’ve offered multiple times to move her out, but she won’t leave. And he won’t leave either,” to the more frightening, “She’s past the point of moving on. There’s nothing you can do for her now.” I felt impotent. I thought about those defiant eyes; that hard stare that she gave him when she wordlessly served him his breakfast, lunch and supper which she cooked from scratch, no matter how bedridden the doctors told her she was. Diabetes, hypertension, a heart attack: nothing could stop her from keeping him fed. It seemed impossible to understand – if she wanted it to end, why didn’t she just walk away?

Ten years have passed since she first declared to me that she was waiting to die. Her body is older, closer to the relief she seeks and further from us who love her.  On a warm January morning this year, she told me yet again, “My bones are very tired. I am waiting to die.” And for once, finally, she was ready to say why.

“My father had wanted to choose a husband for me, as was common in those days, but I was headstrong and insisted on marrying your grandfather out of love. We had known each other since we were children; we grew up as neighbours. My father relented and we got married. The first couple years were okay. We had your aunt and your mother. But then, things started changing even before your uncle and aunt were born. You know already: gambling , alcohol, prostitutes. I had to start working, and then I had to work more and more. We were getting poorer and poorer…at some points we were barely eating, and we had to pull your aunt out of school. My father tried to loan us money but your grandfather always spent it all. Since I’m a woman, my father couldn’t trust me with money…he always gave the loans directly to your grandfather. But it was always gone before it ever reached me or the children, and I could never pay my father back, no matter how hard I worked.  I could barely put food on the table with my salary. He eventually had to cut us off because he realized that any cent he loaned us would be a cent wasted. He passed away before I could ever pay him back, before I could ever apologize for costing him so much and for having wronged him so greatly with my choice of husband.”

Before I could say a word, she continued.

“My mother was much more sympathetic. She moved in with us to care for your mother and her siblings so that I could work more hours. Sometimes, I would have to go away for days at a time. She always begged me not to go for too long.”

Tears were falling down her cheeks.

“One day, your great-grandmother got sick while I was gone. She must have been in her late 70s and she was such a tiny, frail person. Your aunt took her to the doctor’s, where they diagnosed her…”

The tears came stronger; her words almost a whisper.

“With an infection that came from untreated chlamydia. Your aunt had to translate the doctor’s questions as to how on earth a woman at that age could have contracted…”

She paused. The realization dawned on me.

“…a venereal disease. And that’s how I found out that he had been raping my own mother for nearly twenty years.”

She took a pause. We blew our noses, and wiped our tears.

“She said she never told me because he threatened her by saying that if she ever told, he would hurt me and the girls. Of course, by that point he already had… your aunt and uncle were forced onto me by assault. I didn’t want to have any more children after your mother was born. And my little girls… I could only protect them when I was home, but when I wasn’t around…Your mother was seven years old when she came crying to me when I got back from work. She said she had been bent over, feeding the chickens when he came over and…and…”

She couldn’t finish.

“He used to break broomstick handles over your mother’s head for her insolence. But she always fought back. Not like your great-grandmother. She was so tiny, so meek…I can never forgive myself for any of it.”

My ears felt like they were ringing, my chest felt heavy, my eyes were stinging. Three generations of women before me had been abused by the man who was sitting on the other side of the house…

Except that he wasn’t. He wasn’t on the other side of the house. Somehow, in all our sadness, we had missed the sound of his footsteps approaching. He was suddenly standing there, in the doorway looking silently at our puffy eyes and runny noses.

As our eyes met, he said, “Did you read the news about the EU?”  

I was incapable of saying a word. I wanted to get up and punch him in the face. I wanted to lash out and scream at him. I wanted to push him down the stairs, out of the house and away from all the people that I loved.

I looked at my grandmother. The defiant eyes were gone. She did not look scared of him: she looked scared of me. She gave an almost imperceptible shake of the head as if to say “Don’t.”  I thought I understood. He had already ruined everything that was sacred to her…her mother, her father, her children, herself. If I said anything, he would be on her as soon as I left. I kept my mouth shut. Once he had crossed to the living room, she whispered that I must promise to never never breathe a word to him about it. I promised, frightened of what he would do to her.   

I spent much of the next twenty four hours horrified. I tried to convince her that we needed to make a plan to get her away from him. She was infuriated by my many suggestions.

“You promised me you wouldn’t make a fuss!”

When it was clear that I wasn’t intending on giving up, she took me aside and looked me in the eye.

“I’m not afraid of your grandfather. He can do nothing worse than what he has already done. So stop trying to ruin everything. I was foolish to think that you would ever understand.”

I was so confused. I had thought that she didn’t want me to say anything precisely because she was afraid of the violence he might cause.

It has taken me a long time for me to understand why she hasn’t left. I see now that my grandmother has had very few choices in her life…but her choice to stay or leave is hers to make, not mine to make for her.  So much has already been taken from her. Who am I to take away her one last choice to solemnly await death? She has decided for herself that while on earth she cannot escape the madness and guilt of his doing. No physical distance from him can set her free from her anger towards herself. She seems to choose to be within hating distance of him so as to concentrate all her silent fury outward, instead of in. As much as she hates him, I feel she hates herself more for not having been able to stop him. She comes from a generation that doesn’t believe in counselling, so I have no way to help her shed her guilt. Instead, she waits for the end.

these words by Jo-Ann Zhou were inspired by the colour of Raphael Varona

these words by Jo-Ann Zhou were inspired by the colour of Raphael Varona

On Child Abuse: “The Intentions of Wolves”


this piece of art, “breathe,” was created by loish

6. TIN ROOFS SPLIT THE SKY LIKE MOUNTAINS. The spring of a summer door would creak when stretched, as rust spreads when left unchecked. The gap in the wire fence was never discussed

5. Questions from visitors regarding the fence deflated conversations. Topics were then rerouted by the parent, such as an investigation on whose boots had sunk in the mud behind the pines, near a canister of roaches. The children were tense during these reroutes as though a house of cards was shivering with laughter.

4. Others addressed it with polite warning, as when a police officer flashes their lights. The parent would return from these talks to nod at children on staircases, as though the neighbouring guests of the same hotel.

Or, they were picked up.

“I love you, you know that?

3. Morning silences balanced these night enthusiasms. The children were well-aware of the emotional see-saw and did their best to avoid existing as the balance. Gaps in the fence were large enough that you could fit if you got down on your knees or if you were dragged through on your back. Of course visitors with gaps in their fences shared great laughs in our house.

2. Sometimes, deer would approach the back windows that faced the woods. You’d turn from the TV, and there would be two, three deer, spotted white, watching you. They would approach me in the yard. There we’d stand, looking at the other. There was tension in the lines of their muscled haunches. Then the door might creak open and my dog might run them back toward the pines. Their white tails would flip over the field’s weeds, never tripping over objects that were entombed in the grass, close but never caught by the dog.

1. You’d see them on the side of roads, too, with their necks twisted: bodies toward the road, eyes to the trees. In the winter, their blood spattered over snow-covered roads. In the summer, the warm liquid poured out to fill in creases of the cement.


1. I lived in this house for ten years. There wasn’t a fence, but the driveway was made of gravel. As many people know, surviving one of these houses often means leaving. The borders of a driveway give promise to understand who one is or can become without the dynamic of the abused and the abuser. Crossing the border at the end of the lane is often complicated by the fact the attacked is told to be lying, where the abusive parent may discount the uncomfortable truths being shared through threats, a defensiveness which underlines their guilt and shock at the inconvenient possibilities of your voice.

2. Yes, the deer would actually come up to our windows. Half of our house faced a forest, and they’d cross the long weeds to stand on our stone patio and look inside our living room.

3. I wonder if a deer’s ears are like a dog’s ears, and if they could hear through the windows.

4. When I’d see one strung up in a friend’s garage, leaking blood into a bucket, I was perhaps more affected, as though I’d lost a witness who could testify in a case I never wanted to attend.

5. Abusers are insulated by the glorification of keeping family secrets and a culture of stoicism in Ontario. My masculinity amplified this silence and abusive power relies on a special status treatment of silence. If attacked on the street, most people would call the police partially to prevent others from being attacked.*

4. I cannot speak for other members of my family. 

3. It is often this inability to share and process trauma with strangers or friends that will prompt people to become violent later on to cope with feelings of vulnerability. The saying goes, “although not all children who were abused grow up to become abusers, the vast majority of those who abuse were abused as children.”My ability to move from that tendency involves a lot of work and privileges.

4. It is the responsibility of the violent to adopt methods of coping with stress or trauma that do not require the destruction of the minds and bodies of those around them. 

3. Processes of accountability with violent parents require the parent to acknowledge that violence occurred. As acknowledging abuse is acknowledging ‘imperfection,’ tactful rearrangements of memory are often made to lighten the case. (See: ‘it wasn’t my intention’ defenses of racism.) 

2. No person should be shamed for choosing to start such a process with someone who has been violent to them. 

1. No person whose survival is in spite of the attempts of a parent should be blamed for walking away from that person. Shaming this individual should be taken as seriously as shaming someone who avoids snakes because they have been bitten by snakes. 

2. No person exists to be the emotional or physical punching bag for another person to deal with their issues, whatever the complex histories of that person.

1. Those who rush to support the ‘loving’ defense of abuse (“but they love them!”) often reveal the blades in their own hands.

2. There is no ‘complete’ escape from the house that influenced so much of who I am and how I’m writing to you today. 

2. You don’t arrive at zero during a process of rewiring. It’s instead some hybrid form which works to pivot from a new set of values. Gravel is not asphalt and even asphalt splits depending on the heat. Delaying the desire for change and accountability makes sense if it is antagonistic to one’s mental health. Neurologist Gabor Maté convincingly argues that rewiring processes can begin at any age, contrary to the whole old dogs saying.

1. Our bedrooms were on the top floor of the log house. Sleeping under a tin roof meant that you could hear every drop of the rain. The thousands of sounds felt like blankets at night, reminding you how close you were to being outside.

The intentions of wolves

From the author:

“The choice to share my story was influenced by a recent reading by poet Jessica Bebenek, as well as a November reading by Kalale Dalton-Lutale.

The piece of art, “breathe,” was created by loish.

*What the criminal justice system chooses to do with violent offenders is certainly in need of radical change, however the existence of the impulse to prevent violence through accountability is significant.

Further reading: Maté, Gabor. In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts.

On Spousal Abuse: “I Thought You Were Dead”


Trigger warning: spousal abuse

When she got really angry, she’d throw anything in sight. Once she took a painting right off the wall and threw it and it hit me in the side of the head. I blacked out and when I woke up she was on top of me, covering me with her body, and crying. “I thought you were dead,” she said. “I thought you were dead and I was so lonely.”

She moved into my apartment a week after we met. We threw out all of my furniture and she filled the apartment with her couch and table and chairs and bed. The first month, we would sit on the porch sharing cigarettes and discuss what pieces of my furniture had been picked out of the pile, which pieces we thought were the saddest. The coffee table went quickly, but it seemed like no one wanted my old mattress. One night, we drank too much and she punched me in the jaw. It snowed that night and the leftover furniture disappeared.

Sometimes when she threw things, I would grab her wrists until they were raw and swollen. And then she’d kiss me and I would put my arms around her thin waist, hold her so tight she would ask me to stop. We’d sit in front of the television, her face covered in blue from the screen, and I’d bandage her wrists, burned from my skin on hers. We’d laugh that our love was so hot we could burn one another just with a touch.

When you fall in love, the end is never important. The end is another day.

word by Leah Mol

“I found it very intriguing that the woman in this piece seems so strong, and is also seemingly being targeted. She is perfectly in place to be ruined. Because this piece brought forth the theme of contradiction for me, I wanted to write about people who love one another and want to hurt each other all at the same time. People house so many contradictions.”

colour by Rebecca Proppe

“I’ve been making art my whole life, drawing story books and cartoons since I was a little kid. Now I’m an adult, and I still love to draw.

I’m currently studying art history mixed with some painting and drawing classes. Like most people I don’t know where my life will take me after graduation, all I know is I love art in all its forms and will be making it for the rest of my life 🙂

I hope some of you can enjoy my art as much as I did making it.”

On child abuse: “Snow in the water”


A small girl and a tall, middle-aged man eat lunch together at the local fast food restaurant. Both have sauce on their face: him on his chin, her just above her left eyebrow, and both eat the French fries between them with ferocity.

‘Can I have another burger?’ the small girl asks the middle-aged man.

‘No, you’ve had enough, little dumpling,’ the man replies.

The girl looks down at her white liquid thighs. There are delicate webs of blue vein just beneath the skin. She can almost see them wriggling.


The man and the girl go to see a film at the small cinema with the smell like neglected cupboard and forgotten jacket. They stand looking up at the posters.

‘What would you like to see?’ the man asks.

‘I don’t mind, Daddy,’ the girl replies.


The middle-aged man buys two tickets to Titanic and as the opening credits roll he reaches over and puts his hand in the small girl’s lap. She begins from one hundred in her head and pictures each number brightly coloured, flying free across the dark inside her skull.


word by Laura McPhee-Browne

“This piece of art is beautiful to me but it is also confusing, and I believe it is not what it seems. The title of the painting is ‘iceberg’, and I decided to write a little story about something that, like an iceberg, is almost never what it seems to be; child abuse.

When child abuse occurs between a parent and a child, it can easily be dismissed as imagination or exaggeration, but often what a child discloses about what has happened to them will be only the tip of the iceberg. It is important for us as adults to delve deeper—to dive down and find out what is really going on underneath the surface.”

colour by Emilie Rondeau

“My visual practice is a transgression and alteration of our perception of reality. I encourage free and intuitive interventions. Although abstract, my paintings carry the memories of atmospheric gardens, nebulous spaces, organic landscapes and architectures. Made of solid and bright colours, washes, painted and drawn marks, the compositions are reminiscent of complex and dreamlike environments. From the infinitely big to the infinitely small, cosmic or cellular spaces transport us with a strong impression of movement and energy.

The lines intersect and intertwine, linking shapes and colours together. Sometimes fast and agitated mark making succeeds to slow and smooth gesture. Colour is pure and vibrant. The harmony is rich and thoughtful within the limits of strangeness. A delicate balance takes place in this continual research for new visual forms. The eyes travel, search and rest. My paintings are an invitation for a trip in between the painting surface and your mind.”

On Sexual Abuse: “Sizzler”


unnamed (1)

‘Is that all you’re having?’ Phillip has looked over her meal and seen that she is starving. It is the peak of a Melbourne summer outside and Merry feels fat and tired and large enough as it is. He frowns and pushes the breadbasket towards her. ‘You don’t have to worry about your weight, you wouldn’t suit being skinny. Have some bread.’

‘I’ve always been fat.’

art fiction 

Suddenly she doesn’t care about anything except what this conversation could be. No one since her father has ever brought up her weight. She has never talked to anyone about it either but now she feels she might be able to tell Phillip something, something that could perhaps explain.

He doesn’t reply with anything, doesn’t deny her statement. Merry feels a little light-headed, though she has hardly touched her Amaretto Sour. She fishes around in the glass with her fingers and pulls out the cherry, dangling it above and then down into her mouth.

art fiction 

‘Don’t do that. Women shouldn’t eat with their fingers.’

art fiction 

She wipes hand on the paper napkin beside her plate, mouth slightly watering from the effort not to lick.

After Phillip has gone back for more veal schnitzel and duck gravy and they are lily-lipped and cloud-eyed, he asks her if she will take him home.

art fiction 

‘I live with this old woman who hates it if I have guests. I think she’s in love with me.’

art fiction 

He smiles a little and adjusts his sagging shirt collar. Merry feels that the woman is most certainly in love with him; she understands through the liquor that the woman flirts with Phillip in her tattered kimono over eggs and beans for breakfast and that she has a cat who curls often on Phillip’s knee.

art fiction 

‘What’s her name?’ she asks.

‘June. Why?’ His voice has coloured slightly—it is a storm in the distance, in the heavy clouds.

‘Oh, I just wondered. June is a nice name.’

art fiction 

He frowns, forcefully, as if it will help him to tolerate her stupidity.

art fiction 

‘She’s just my housemate. She’s old and sagging and pays most of the rent.’

art fiction 

There is a familiarity to Phillip’s forehead that she did not see before. It’s in his crooked eyebrows, the slight pouches of muscle above each one that move when he talks like they are his voice. It must be the reason why she feels a pulsing in her groin at every word he speaks—because she knows him.

      They have dessert, coffee, more sours, more smooth froth on lagers like chocolate milkshakes. It is Phillip that decides when they need to leave, and he doesn’t come back to her nervous, cluttered flat after all. He starts to eat at her neck and then her chin in the taxi on the way there and tells the driver to stop so that he can fuck her up against an alleyway brick wall that is sprayed in red and green and blue: coloured words she can’t read but that she thinks just might mean everything.

       Just as he pushes himself in she sees who his forehead is. Now it’s her father with his hand up under her dress, pulling at her nipple too hard. She closes her eyes and tries to remember the sound of Philip’s voice. She hears sirens and feels strangled breath heat the skin that covers her neck tendons.

“When I saw this art piece by Fannie Gadouas, I immediately felt protective towards the woman with the blood and strawberries in her lap, with all her vulnerability so blatantly displayed. 
The character of Merry in my story ‘Sizzler’ is a vulnerable character because of her background, and the way her femininity and innocence was abused by those closest to her. Despite this trauma and vulnerability, Merry keeps living and trying to find something better for herself. The strawberries replacing most of the blood in Fannie Gadouas’ piece inspired the resilience inherent in the character of Merry, and reminded me of the resilience I have witnessed in so many (less fictional!) women I know and love.”

colour by Fannie Gadouas

“I am an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, fiber arts and performance. My work explores issues pertaining to femininity, identity and experience. By re-appropriating various traditional imagery, techniques and rituals, I question and challenge the way gendered identity is constructed, inherited and perceived in western society. Textiles is, and has traditionally been associated with the feminine realm. Critically engaging with techniques such as weaving, knitting and embroidery allows me to subvert and question my own role as both woman and artist. In this sense, my practice as a whole becomes a performance in which the process holds more relevance than the resulting objects. Informed and greatly influenced by feminist theory, the work I produce is a critical response to the social structure of western society.”