The hardy, Irish wild fern

sits in the dark, wet garden

of my childhood.


I scrape its black spores

off the back of its body –

spores that won’t budge,

harshly ingrained into the green.


A pastime that piques my interest

Finger picking, prodding, probing

at dark speckles like purulent pimples

awaiting burst –


I flee, like flame-shaped leaves

to the coloured wooden swing

and games using strings.


But in my hand

an unraveled frond

peels back:

secrets from stem to leaf,

spore to sore.



-Elizabeth Joss


I’m a South African living in the Netherlands for the last five years. I’ve had various poems and short stories published in South African literary print journals (New Coin, Literator, Botsotso). Being a poet offers me an escape and also the opportunity to grapple with my diasporic identity. It allows me to nostalgically recall cherished memories from my youth and young adult life growing up in Cape Town, South Africa.