jane yeh


At first I thought it was a young boy. The newcomer was as tiny as Alice, with lank, pale brown hair trimmed short. The body under the cloak—which was darker, almost black—was slim and androgynous. But the face was too pretty for a boy. The wide-eyed, full lipped face would make a Botticelli angel look like a gargoyle. Even allowing for the dull crimson irises.

On Being an Android

My positronic hair never grows an inch.
(It looks like hair, but it’s made of wires.)
My brain doesn’t look like a brain, but it doesn’t matter.
My friends think of me as reliable because I never get sick.
My hands can be used to unscrew bolts and pull things from the oven.

How I was made: equal parts mystery and on-off switches.
Age 5: driving lessons, triathlon, med school, embroidery.
Everyone says looks don’t matter, as long as you’ve got personality.
My first crush was a Roomba I mistook for a person.
Second crush: a person, but don’t even go there.

I could live in a cupboard, but where’s the fun in that?
The cat keeps me company whenever I cook.
(I don’t need to eat food, but I like to practise anyway.)
It’s easy to be lonely when all your friends are human.
The cat laps up my meals, but then she’s always hungry.

In my dreams, I am charming and good at making small talk.
(There’s no program for that as yet.)
Being human means the whole world is made for you like a cake.
Being an android means you get some cake, but you can’t eat it.
I don’t know how to flirt, so the bears at my local are teaching me.

The lightning in my head means a brainstorm is coming.
If I think hard enough about anything, my hair starts to curl.
It’s easy to predict the future when there’s a timer in your neck.
The instruction manual says my knee can be used as a utensil.
Everyone admires my artificial skin, but nobody wants to touch it.
Jane Yeh

The Witches

The Witches
Jean Yeh

It’s been forty-six days since I infiltrated the witches
They know I’m an outsider, but I’m good with their pets.
They let me live out back with the goats and building supplies.
I send reports to my masters, the birds, by carrier beetle.

The witches sleep standing up, like statues.
They never change into pyjamas in case there’s a raid.
If you nudge them, they don’t tip over like cows -
They just raise an eyelid and look daggers at you, like a woken-up cat.

They restore bassoons as a front for their larceny.
(I found a stash of gilded coathooks in the head witch’s closet.)
It takes a coven to rear pets who are happy and healthy.
I daren’t make friends with the mice in case they’re informants.

Night-times are generally the hardest for spies.
I lie in my shed, listening to the spiders making webs,
Think I hear footsteps where they shouldn’t be.
The goats rustle in their sleep, kicking imaginary tins.

Shadows creep up the wall like fingers, then suddenly recede.
I hold my breath for as long as I can and wait.
The blood pounds in my brain like an alarm - too late
To save me from punishment. The witches are coming.


I’ve gotten nothing for weeks. You might think of me

As dated in a blue housecoat, buttoning & unbuttoning,
Waiting you out: I have my ways

Of keeping time. When your letter comes, dogs will bark
Up & down the street. The tomatoes in the garden

Will explode like fireworks. Each day the mailman passes
In a reverie, illiterate, another cobweb

Grows across the door. Picture me
Going bald one hair at a time, combing & curling, burning

My hand on the iron once every hour: I like to
Keep myself busy. When I hear from you, aurora

Borealis will sweep across the sky. Every lottery ticket in my drawer
Will win. Even the mailman will know the letters

Of your name. If you bothered to notice, you would see me
Turning to gold rather slowly, bone

By bone, the way teeth come
Loose from the gums, the way animals go

Extinct, in geological time.

- Jane Yeh