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green girl

green girl

Praise for green girl


In the searing poems of green girl, Jessie Sobey calls on the language of Shakespeare to help tell a story we are coming to know all too well: of how a young girl or woman suffers harm to her heart and mind, and body, at the hands of boys and men. Her aim, she writes, is “to change the green girl’s narrative: not to do the impossible & change what has happened, but to show the secret parts.” A poet’s work is to put us inside experience, to feel it asexperience, to hold a complex mirror up to it, to name it. green girl does this with the bravery of candor. What begins with “no remedy for a trauma / that cannot be undone” arrives at:


               so here’s a promise:


               my injuries are just a sport to you

               but it is from there      


               that I write

               & will speak truth into the public’s ear.


Harrowing, vertiginous, haunted, the poems in green girl excavate the image of Ophelia, fracturing her into prismatic bits—sister, self, drowned, undrowned, resurrected, never-dead, survivor and ghost, the one who’s been silenced and the one who speaks. This fierce book interrogates the idea that “I am not what I am” in ways that linger, challenge, and disrupt.

—Laurie Sheck


Sample of the poems: 


a divided duty

The place where it started — a turning point, 

to put it mildly — isn’t mine to make a shelter in 


I’m told the entire center is like a field

that will fallow if I enter.


Now in double-exile I start to wonder

how I can still love what I should hate, except


I am not what I am


arms & legs crudely sutured like mismatched socks

seepage pooling in the furrow — 


the constant static of something else’s grim memories

kept behind lidless eyes    so I’ll not sleep tonight.


I scrub with vinegar the veiny tapestry

until it’s hot & harlot-red. Listen — 


I am not what I am


all day I’ve been

playing house with a stranger


a reverse blur of nose, cheek, hair

a rumor, a fracture, a slattern who asked for it


on the leather couch, where the mark I left — 

a green inkblot — even that’s not there.


I am not what I am


this bleating, antic figment

strangles the flower necks to frolic with the dead, smiles


when the scissors in its hand

appear in mine instead


says the bruised heart must be pierced through the ear — 

take the blade & find your shelter there.


I will play the swan

There’s a secret      kept distal

in bath-warm tears I muffle


just here in my full-length mirror

that’s always never right.


What’s me

that wasn’t you


when the original taken out 

looks slanted, rippled grim as


the last words you wrote: Return 

to Sender.


Spring meltwater 

bathes the pondweeds 


in a late-dripping sun.

Someone’s about to find


where the bodies lie — 

like scabbed pecans

dropped from their branches.


With what violence

you first loved me — 


in this selfsame pool

the nests reamed & feather-full.


Death is our physician

I only really knew you

in the winter — 


it’s nearly fall — storm-birthed leaves

pool a soggy ochre


that cataracts

across this clammy deck


the grass below cloud-cold, bent

the last sweet tomatoes


pink-green, belly-split

hang like doll parts


over squash flowers

that prickle my hardened skin.


How many times you walked up

the ice-banked stairs –


after, I dashed your footprints

too fancy for the snow that gathered there.


If it were now to die — 

not like a season that’s passed


or the once-manic anthill

its cadent bowels washed out its side


but how we might

throw out our eyes 


to console them

steal away, so guilty-like.



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