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They never went back. I return

 to a Wanneroo Nursery to meet them.

It was meant as a slur. They claim

Neapolitan but we are hill people poor.

My uncle whose head is chestnut

wrought brands me a testa dura.[1]

I’m awed by her hubris & wish

I was so sure. A garden fork

the red nails of an assured Signora.

A stowaway immigrates, roots

settling. The Bunning’s hoe is bent

so, I pinch-back new growth. 

Il mezzogiorno[2] is dark olive, the hue

 of land labour. She boasts a terrona.[3]

I keep my nails bare to not seem

gaudy. There’s a weed in the olive

pot & dirt in the cuticles of her

red tines. All oil was olive once.

Ma Pacchiana[4] asks, “olives to eat

or for oil?” I am a pilgrim

on the frontier of the suburbs

& the old world. They under-carry

their weight to not slow down

the procession. Continuity is lore.

My childbearing hips are spares.

Each ant bears a fixed load.

There can be no stand outs.

Each ant triple steps, soldiers on the

Appian Way stopping only for

food & whores. Our bodies are

detritus. We are all food.

I tip the honeyeater floating face

down for my husband to bury.

An ant carries it away.

I bite my nail ‘til it’s stub-like.

[1] testa dura – hard head

[2 mezzogiorno- twelve o’clock, reference to southern Italy

[3] a terrona – a female farmer

[4] Ma Pacchiana- a Calabrian woman in traditional dress

The science inspiring the piece:

An Appendage was inspired by observation in my backyard. I found a dead New Holland Honeyeater in my backyard and before I had time to bury it the resident Bobtail carried it by its wing under a Banksia shrub never to be seen again. I also bit my nail and watched an ant carry it away and both of these inspired the idea of how we are all just food or resource. Furthermore, I layered this over my Italian ancestral migration and how I am living here on host/stolen land and my uneasy relationship with identity.