Yvonne Green


But, I asked my mum, how could he have eaten
40 quail at one sitting? he being the King she’d revered,

Tous comprendre… she’d laugh, they were tiny,
Skewered in fire, crunched in one go, her teeth remembered,

I winced at the silenced birds, imagined their
Feathers, chickened like at the butcher, then somehow sizzled

Edible, swalloweable, felt sick as the mist that
Took her away from us, gathered over her eyes, to somewhere

We could never go because of time but it
Had given her a wonderful youth, picnics au claire

De la lûne with her brothers as chaperones,
She blushed coy but wilful well into old age, always

Popular, loved, beautiful, her appeal’s range,
Like Om Kalthom’s, beyond politics, geography,

She told their exodus story as a comedy, so
You laughed and cried at the bit when Roger

Hid everything they had from the business in
Port Saïd, in an airport toilet cistern, preferring

A cleaner or fellaheen should find it, then was
The only one not searched, couldn’t speak

For 3 months, was catatonic all through
Stateless transition and beyond, oh oh the rides my

Maternal grandparents took in fiâcres along
Alexandria’s croisette, my mother’s shock at NW4’s

Manor Hall Avenue…, sakhtet bent, she and
Her friends would laugh when the conversation lulled

Mid-sentence at tea parties after someone
Gave way, as quiet as the house on the day a girl’s born


Yvonne Green is a poet descended from Boukharian Jews. Her pamphlet, Boukhara (2007), won The Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition. She has published four full-length collections with Smith|Doorstop including; The Assay, Honoured and Jam & Jerusalem. Her volume After Semyon Izrailevich Lipkin was a Poetry Book Society’s Translation Choice in 2011.

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