Thursday, 4 December 2014
New poem: Museums
My mother loved museums. She said that the
Bethnal Green Museum saved her. I didn’t know
what it saved her from. My father swore in
Yiddish. My mother said, ‘Don’t say that!’
I said, ‘What did he say?’
‘It sounds like my uncles in the back room,’ she
said, ‘they were playing gin rummy.’
‘What’s gin rummy?’ I said.
In one museum we went to, she saw a sampler.
A nine year old girl had embroidered it hundreds
of years ago. After that, we could be having tea
and my mother would look up and say, ‘Let self-
sacrifice be its own reward.’
I said, ‘What’s self-sacrifice?’
My father went out the room. We heard him
My mother said, ‘Ask your father what he’s doing
and tell him to stop it.’
There was a typhoid outbreak in south America.
On the news, they said, ‘Don’t eat the corned
beef. The corned beef comes from south America.
Don’t eat the corned beef.’
My mother went to the cupboard. It was stacked
up with corned beef tins. She took one out.
‘Better not open that till the typhoid outbreak’s
over,’ she said.