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Genna Gardini



Genna Gardini

Gardini is a 22 year old South African poet. She has a BA in English and Drama from Rhodes, and currently lives in Cape Town. Her poems have been published in Carapace, New Coin, Fidelities, New Contrast, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Pulsar's Other Poetry.



Nana and the Wolf
Time’s licked me nut, and right to the bone.
Once, strange hands furred us down
and we were the nodes on furious mice.
Now, I operate from this, the dust-kitchen of my lap,
like a cook on conference call,
stellactating. I am bed iced, and sore.
A splinter, but sopping.

Little girl, climbed right between the nubs,
fretted my belly till it caved, loved me knowing
and unknowing I had grown our blood
sequestered. In rows, like mushrooms.
When you were a child we played clean as kettles
and I prized the printpress of your limbs, and skin,
because my looking read your living out-
Face fleshy little pig’s toe, fanny furled into a truffle.
But now, you’ve woken up foot wrinkled, and steaming
with the old game, caught arm down, wearing bite rungs
like chromosomes, saying
there are more ways to sully a sheet than with sleeping,
hey! as if I had chopped you out of nothing.
You asked the wrong question when you asked about the wolf.



I have shameless sheared
every thump and scab
as if loss is olfactory,
and comes plugged to the brain,
only playing for scarabs,
or scuttling the chord.
And handling the door!
And riding the train!
While we heed each glitch
against the pad of love’s fist
like we’ve ever heard a rattle
from that magic eight ball.



You tell me you shot a monkey once
(with your pellet gun)
and found it curled up the next day,
little, and bibbed in the sill.
This is what comforts you,
that every year is never your twentieth year,
with all its crawling towards an unsedimented
dinner-table, and so forth.
Instead, picked and sat in mid-morning traffic,
possessive about panic, prone to heart murmurs,
you see, now, what kind of marriage it would‘ve been,
its unsuccessful sex like its unsuccessful meals.
Glazed over.
Then I cooked it, you shift. Sorry?
Well, now we’re moving the fish forks, you,
I don‘t know, you always have to eat your first kill.
The sideplate clucks, shocked for me.
When I said goodbye, you kissed me
quick and on the mouth,
putting yourself between the cutlery
and my talk.
I felt it read my face out, into the serviette-
small and puckered children, corporate functions,
the queen-size we register for,
and at least a hundred more meals,
in restaurants, like this.


The Snake (put it in front of me):
With others I cropped,
wielding prospects like rakes.
Passed over, fresh hoed, each peach-
half a face, or a foot soldered off.
But when you had gone. I felt, myself,
in the fish-shop’s pink stucco.
A wan stick of meat. Just, gutted.
You were never the boy at work
fleshing his back for a shoe horn,
his mouth coming cupped.
You were always a whole.
And left my days bombed. The grout
of a construction site.
A crack-bed. A blasting of ground.
Scuff at dirt for long enough
and you will find what can’t be cleared.



Horses Heads:
Try sit me by the Afrikaans boy,
match our stretchmarks with tongues,
and watch, we will only learn to love each other
rud-fisted, phonetically.
My mother didn’t understand the teacher,
who kept a china-plate in place of her palate
but, then, she couldn’t follow all the implied italics
in the harp-dipped mountains, either,
so we didn’t move back to the old country
(which it really was,
the plane-full of your Zias,
gold-rimmed and permanent, even in economy
looking the way they always did to you:
like money on a farm)
or stay in the tickertape dentist’s office
that was her Harare,
settling out and up, instead,
monkeys, and Michele, wild in our acre.
Please don’t chastise me
for having read my olive-skin off
like you think if I aired all my sun’d-linen
I’d be any less of a white.



Jakob II:
Damp as a tuber, bursting with something white-sauced and odorous,
these are the sumstains we tried to deodorize:
the sweat’s slug suggestion of facial hair, the lint of uncertainty,
thin weevils that burrow through your digestive tract.
You only wanted to grow it out of compost steel and manufactured
because you forgot the difference between shit and blood.
The bile-pit is shot up with swab samples now.
Hypothetical sisters you didn’t know how to love,
ignoring the kisses their bilious knees scraped against yours 
as you tipped them in, grey limb by chalk limb. 
A wing of skin tucked into your sleeve.
Things you chucked away, things you have heard already.

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