Little Wet-Paint Girl
Among tall grass and wasps, I didn’t know the wind was an hourglass. My innocence amused the woman next door. Her delight planted watermelons, pink mouthfuls amidst famine. We rescued different species, different riddles:
Why does September make you thirsty?
Once born, who stays behind?
The neighbor woman was a theater.
We grew older, and I lost her by losing myself.
Born to a French-Canadian mother and Algerian father, Ouanessa Younsi is a bold and unique voice in modern Francophone poetry. In this intensely personal recitation on identity and ethnicity, Younsi takes the reader on a surreal odyssey through a liminal world of belonging and unbelonging, absence and presence, mind and body. Her visionary work, first published in French and translated here by Rebecca Thompson, is unsettling, riveting and guaranteed to leave readers contemplating the existential mysteries of “self.”