The Jokester

Donna Faulkner née Miller

(New Zealand)

The nice lady serving coffee at the market detects a slight twang of an accent when I say,

“Thank you.”

“That’s a lovely accent, where does it come from?” she asks.

I am reminded that I am a stranger. It throws me, it always throws me. How do I explain

my presence here?

She’s passing pleasantries but I feel like a fraud. The fractured accent is of obscure origin.

Refusing to be replicated on demand. My Loki voice is a jokester. Sliding into conversations

capriciously. Suggesting to those that really know me that I’m either very happy, very mad, or somewhere in-between.

I don’t know where I come from, not really!

I was born in a city I never once slept in. And my family of boomerangs immigrated frequently to other towns in other countries. Some boxes were never unpacked.

My voice is a choir of cicadas on a humid night in Huntly. It had butchered Christmas carols for pennies and pounds on a housing estate, in the 1990s.

I’ve lived by the coast, near a goldmine, in a house truck, in a tent. My toes are spread wide from a childhood in bare feet, my porcelain skin tinged olive.

I have lived.

I smile when I think of it. All the people that I have been.

But you can’t say all that to a stranger at a market.

I pause to think and sip my coffee, careful to prevent the froth forming a moustache on my lip.

“Everywhere,” I reply with a smile. Pink and white crumbs from my lamington settle like

confetti on my plate.

Donna Faulkner née Miller

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Donna spent her childhood between countries. One foot bare and carefree in New Zealand, the other tiptoeing the coal dust and camaraderie of working class England. She lives in Rangiora, New Zealand but likes to roam. She’s published in erbacce, Havik, Fieldstone Review, Takahē: Hua/ Manu, Etherea Magazine, New Myths and others. Her nonfiction story ‘The Rag doll rider’ won second prize in Havik, 2023 . She has work forthcoming in Windward Review and Bacopa Literary Review 2023. You can connect with Donna on Instagram @lady_lilith_poet/ Twitter @nee_miller. https://linktr.ee/donnafaulkner

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