First Generation

by Genna Gardini

for Mara, Oscar and Michele Gardini


Where I am from we do not measure relation in corpuscles.


That is why I love you more than I know how to tell you

and I tell you all the time


about the tiny Canadian

demonstrating the sting of the felt mantis-

He mouths it into your puppet’s pursed ear,

oh, Jesus,

your mother and your father and your brother,

your Nonna who soiled her gingham dress,

in glee, by the pronutro pool at the old house,

in Zimbabwe- One day I, also, will realize

I am a grown woman

being chased by a monkey, and wee.


Bone memories speak a language of marrow, fried.

We were made for the government school,

the horse-prowled Benoni farm lands,

an Uncle’s seven-eleven down by the train tracks.

Are you scared you’re a coloured

and not Portuguese?

he asks,

and I can’t stop laughing.


She told me that I grew in her heart

instead of under it,

and I imagined myself squashed in that cavity,

sucking on a cardial chord, like a slikkie,

more than blood, more than fat,

I am made of these white moments,

healthy as cells, with their new-mattress walls bolstered

by decades of cutlery and jars, the lazy susan

we spun to Durban and Cape Town and back,

a roulette I won, every time.




Genna Gardini, a 22-year-old writer from South Africa, has been published in international magazines Sub-Lit and Sein und Werden. Her work has also appeared in South African publications such as the 2008 POWA Anthology, Fidelities and Itch. Three of her poems are forthcoming in Carapace.


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