The Human Genre Project


Something to look forward to: chocolate cake,
Christmas, visits from friends, a newborn
with ten fingers, ten toes, more than thirty-five
CAG trinucleotide repeats , hovering
at the threshold on chromosome four,
waiting to be let in later, or
sooner. Waiting till I’m thirty-five,
more or less. Ten years older than Mum was
when she had me.

I was only ten when Mum went
funny. At first the doctor said it was coping
with us kids — six by then — that made her mutter,
fidget, prone to weeping as she fried
bread for tea, yet left her dry when she dropped
the teapot, passed down from the mum
barely known, who died in a car crash
before she had a chance to turn out,
like Great Grandpa

Twitch. A nickname easily remembered,
its reason put away, until appointments
at Queen Square exposed family
history that I didn’t care to own,
but took the tests
all of a rush,
my unborn child
needing to know. So now I’m aware,
better prepared, making plans for baby.

Caroline Litman