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Yvonne  Green
Yvonne Green

Yvonne Green was born in London in 1957 into a merchant family of Central Asian descent. Her background is multi-lingual. Her mother was born in Egypt and her father in France. Yvonne read law at LSE and practised as a barrister in the Inner Temple. Her pamphlet collection, 'Boukhara' was a winner in the Poetry Business Competition 2008-09, judged by Alison Brackenbury. 'The Assay' is her first full-length collection.
The Poetry Business Presents: Yvonne Green

Yvonne Green

My Father’s Room

My father had an attic room where he did his books

when he wasn’t there I used to go and look.

There were scraps of paper torn off spiral pads;

auction house catalogues, text circled, pages dog eared,

reserve prices marked in code; a hard folding chair;

a splintered trestle table and always the smell of him

Next to his room was a room full of books and bookcases;

books in them, on them and on the floor (my dictionary

a tiny Larousse covered in brown paper was my father’s

from prison camp).

I never sat in the book room when my father was there

I was afraid of him and anyway we weren’t allowed

when he was concentrating. He hated doing his books

but I think he liked being alone. I’d visit after he’d gone

as a way to be near him. Then I went to the book room

where so many abandoned stories gathered dust

until I opened them, powdering the tips of my fingers.

Ghetto Blaster

1962, if not later.

He had a black radio.

He carried it in his arms

but it was supposed to sit

on the sideboard.

He carried it because of

the reception and the reception

made him very angry,

Bordel de bordel de bordel.

We sat at the kitchen table,

having dinner time.

He pressed his ear

to the black fabric speaker.

Static cut at us

above the actualites

and I couldn’t swallow food.

Years later I saw footage

of how people listened

to the news during The War,

drawn up close to the radio

with frozen expressions.

Now he’s 80

and puts CNN on,

loud, over and over again.

Things are important

and require his full attention.

The Assay

His hammer smashed items

which were going to the melt.

Gutted fob watches,

unhinged cigarette cases,

coffee pots stripped of solder,

jangled in old mail bags

because of the high price of silver.

Sometimes there’d be silence

and I’d hear, “I need to taste that.¸

I watched, as he droppered acid,

like a condiment onto an entrée dish

or an epergne expecting his gold incisor

to bite down, while his gigantic hands

held the (as yet intact) antique like a sandwich.

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