Yvonne Green’s Poem: Jews

I attended a conference in London yesterday (about which I will post further) and had the privilege of sitting next to Yvonne Green, the British poetess who, among other things, visited Gaza after Operation Cast Lead four years ago (when I first met her). She just sent me her most recent (as yet unpublished) poem which she has given me permission to post.

 

Jews

(I.M. of Czesław Miłosz)

We’re neither poems for you to fetishise

nor emblems of the murdered of the twentieth century,

we don’t hold all possibilities in Talmudic minds

live burdened with the grief you want us to.

We’re not the monsters of the Middle East,

the devils of the diaspora, nor do we know

the selves we recognise in one another.

We’re in danger in your midst

and where you don’t know us,

a barometer of your pasts and futures

that you never consult,

and yet we ourselves live

by the tremble of mercury

which we always ask ourselves to shape,

for which we’re quoted against ourselves.

There’s no monopoly of suffering

what did the first victims know

who’s parents sent them with wobbly legs

gaped mouths, vacant grins, rage, the evidence

of the trial they were to heart, hands, purse;

yes look I’m a Jew and I’ve said purse,

judge me if you want; the first victims

were piped away like Hamlyn’s children,

only before the rats and other vermin.

Yvonne Green’s Publications:

After Semyon Izrailevich Lipkin,  (Smith/Doorstop 2011), Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation

The Assay, (Smith/Doorstop 2010)

Boukhara, (Smith/Doorstop 2009), Smith/Doorstop Prizewinner

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