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21ST-CENTURY POETRY England, the Old People’s Home

My mother walks cold corridors, lost
underneath a mask. Bends to do her dirty work,
Picking up white people’s shit.

Not a metaphor, how she feels about this land,
but a turd left on the floor, her duty done with care
as another wreck of bones squats

to release his thoughts about the influx —
Why are there so many blacks?
The mask stops her from howling in response.

Jenny Mitchell’s second collection Map of a Plantation is published by Indigo Dreams. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email


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