Yvette Siegert







California Roll


When I say accent I don’t mean tilde, I mean the Valley, I mean birdsong, I mean there used to be a war. The moment the light at the intersection changes, before the first driver reacts to the right of way and moves. A foothill, harsh and lonely, like a matador, brandishing a Sunday: that’s the night inside the lining of your voice. A corridor becoming your palate carved into the old geometries. Here I want the muscle shell of your off-key mouth, this thing called glossolalia, a mouth the morning after Pentecost, so mother mortar mortal shell. A blank-page dictionary, the endless entries for uninhibited. By which you mean uninhabited and going home. The row of strict tract housing. You enter an unlatched door and bump into a couch that mars where the orchid stand would be. And then it dawns on you, you took a wrong turn back there, and now you’re confronted with tin cans turned inside out, with the wreck dry shimmer of traffic musing, the gloss on the lull of the 405 below. You say several and the airport wind turns your skirt into a capsized bell. What I mean is, the grief of windshields. The softer webbing between these words. What I mean is, the house we lost.





Yvette Siegert, a CantoMundo Poetry Fellow, was born in California to immigrants from El Salvador and Colombia, and moved to the UK in 2018. Recent work has appeared in The White Review, Boston Review, Stonecutter, Gulf Coast, Oxford Review of Books, and other places, and is forthcoming in Magma and the Broken Sleep Anthology of Immigrant Writing. She won the 2019 Lord Alfred Douglas Poetry Prize and the 2017 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for this year’s The White Review Poets’ Prize and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She is currently reading for a DPhil in Latin American literature at Merton College, Oxford.

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