The Queen Turned Black
by Jenny Mitchell
When granny dies, her skin transforms,
not limb by limb but all at once –
dark brown becomes red, white and blue.
Her hair has lost its kink, becomes a stately crown.
I’m not surprised. She loved Great Britain
even when in ’56 a turd slipped
through her letterbox. Neighbours called police
in ’58 to say her bible class – loud prayers
to a blond-haired Jesus – sent them mad.
More than once in ’63, the local press reported
that her house became a den of vice – Black
Madame Must Be Stopped!
She used the settlements to build a large extension.
Most recently, the man next door, caped
in a Union Jack, ordered her to go back home
with the other immigrants. Home was called
the Mother Country where the Queen
once welcomed her, waving from a balcony.
Now ever since she died, the Queen has been
transformed, her skin turned black,
her hair a tall, soft afro. She lies
next to my granny in a special plot, white
roses planted close. Are they holding
hands, having shared so much?
Jenny Mitchell is a winner of the Bread and Roses Poetry Award, the Poetry Book Awards 2021 and a joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2019. She also won the inaugural Ironbridge Prize, the Bedford Prize and the Gloucester Poetry Society Open Competition. The best-selling debut collection, Her Lost Language, is one of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales), and a second collection, Map of a Plantation, is an Irish Independent ‘Literary Find’ and on the syllabus at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her latest collection is called Resurrection of a Black Man.