Alyson Miller |

“Incubation” was produced as a result of the images from a pregnancy scan, a 3D capture and a short video of a tiny human being yet to be born, and yet fully formed, and waving to those watching as though it was aware of its performance from the inside. It was a remarkable vision, enabled only by enormous developments in technology that cross the boundaries between inside and outside—yet there was something also distant and alien about the viewing experience, a reminder of human bodies as carriers for other bodies and living things.


In the dark room, vacuum eyes, like moons or tunnels or gaping mouths. Incandescent, the face is alien bright, cocooned in an amniotic dream space of heartbeats and echolocation. The outside, that other world that taps across the surface of her belly like some ancient code, tries to imprint upon a neophyte whose cells are wired only for survival: the battle noise of Wagner; the poetry of the dead. And it is parasitical, burying deep into the viscera of its carrier, into the gut and the marrow, sucking and clawing for food. On the monitor, phalange scrape at her ribs and spine, searching. It feels the pulse of the cardiac muscle, the steady race of blood entering the atrium, then the ventricle, pumped into pulmonary circulation, hunting oxygen. The rhythmic thud is hypnotic, like some primitive language; a summons in a ritual of devourment. And so it crawls upwards, drinking adrenalin and curiosity, aware only distantly of hormones flooded with the bitter smell of pain; the metallic taste of fear.



Alyson Miller teaches literary studies and professional and creative writing at Deakin University, Geelong. Her short stories and poems have appeared in both national and international publications, including a book of literary criticism, Haunted by Words: Scandalous Texts and a collection of prose poems, Dream Animals.

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