Indyana Horobin (Griffith University, Australia)
You have those walls that pull up out of the sea. Coral onto rock onto concrete, and vines. Vines, stretching up the walls, along them, into them. The wood doesn’t grow on you like it does on the mainland, it’s stunted. Thin and brittle, the branches reach up walls of buildings but none stand in the open squares. There’s moss on those buildings, their foundations dug into you. They dug into you, shovels and drills and diggers, tractors, welding and welding, white and hot fire. Your name means Battleship Island. People say it’s because you’re the size of a war vessel, but that’s wrong. There are deeper myths; things that came from the men in your mines, coaled and barnacled and haunted. So many just lived on top, in the buildings: white, beige, brown, but never the colour of those shafts, powder black. The mine men saw underneath, the dark wells they tried to bathe in sterile lights remained just as dark. They saw things in your stomach, fish skeletons and chitinous creatures and things people hadn’t seen for an age, shouldn’t have seen again. They said you were called Battleship Island because of your mineshafts fired like cannons, the coal ready to be lit, to fire the men out, expand their pores, burn the buildings. They said one day you’d take the place back, one day you’d stop the coal, sink the money, give the concrete back to the coral. That’s what happened; families left overnight, and in a few days you were alone again. Alone in the water, with fish skeletons and things that shouldn’t be seen, but ready to fire, always ready to fire.
Indyana Horobin is a Griffith University PhD candidate, his current project engages with the area of familial war-writing through an auto/biographic novel. He has been published in Drunken Boat and APWT’s Meridian in 2020, Griffith University’s Talent Implied 2019 and 2020, and short-listed for 2021’s Peter Cowan 600.