The whites them used to say we colours was too bright. You couldn’t trust a darkie in a yellow suit – too sharp. Him steal your wife with one hand, pick your pocket with the next.
Them never think to say we dress up bright to keep the sun alive in this dull place. I never know a sky so grey or clouds this low till I did buck up here.
The whites did wear their clothes to match, heads bent like words drop from their mouths. They have to read them off the ground, mumbling to themselves.
Is not unfriendly them unfriendly. It’s just the cold did lick them till they can’t do little more than frown, faces long like icicles.
Another thing them used to say, we eat dog food. Why dog food? Why not cat? You ever hear such foolishness? Enough to make me spit.
The young ones tell me rest myself. Is not the past we living now. You go to Carnival and all you see is whites nyam jerk food, dress up bright.
But me, I see a next thing come to pass – these days is all we blacks who wear dull clothes. Is progress this or something sad we catch?
Jenny Mitchell was joint winner of the Geoff Stevens’ Memorial Poetry Prize in 2019. Her work has been broadcast on Radio 4 and BBC 2, and published in The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar etc. A debut collection, Her Lost Language (Indigo Dreams Publishing) was Poetry Kit Book of the Month November 2019.