The Human Genre Project


Genetics are the stories we tell:
great-grandmothers who moved west to escape pogroms,
carrying Shabbat candlesticks and seeds in their bundles.
The way my sister sketches, curling
her right hand top-down over the pencil
just as Cousin Miriam does. My daughter's singing
is as tuneless as mine. Her dark curls bounce
as she skips down hospital corridors,
jumping to tap every poster. When I ease the snarls
from her ringlets, I wonder if my mother might have wept
when she was born, knowing her granddaughter was doomed
to our life of tangles.

Every Friday night my daughter helps me light two candles.
One burns too fast, melting into lumps
down silver candlesticks.
I show her Aunt Golde's letters
written in the old Germanic script,
the last one dated 1942.
Far too soon, she'll walk down a corridor
as an orderly wheels her mother,
who whispers through the anaesthesia
and her loosening ringlets
to tell her stories of her grandmother.

Tracey Rosenberg