Poem: Jemima Mitra – ‘Brown Girl in Beverley’

By June 8, 2020 Blogs, Features, News, Poem

We’re back with some more fantastic poetry, with work discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, and issues surrounding it for other artists and creatives. Here’s an awesome piece by Hull-based performance artist, Jemima Mitra, titled ‘Brown Girl In Beverley’.

I walk in and three heads turn around;

They look me up and they look me back down.

It’s like they’ve never seen a brown girl

On this side of town.

 

It makes me uncomfortable enough

To want to walk back out that door,

But then again, I’m in Beverley

And dressed “like a bit of a whore”.

 

It seems I’m the only brown girl

Here for another mile,

So walking into a pub

Kinda feels like I’m standing on trial.

 

Their eyes meet mine,

But they do not smile.

Their looks feel cold,

As if they’ve just been told

 

A dodgy secret about me,

And they’re trying to suss out if it’s true.

Even though you hold my hand as we walk through

I feel a distance between me and you.

 

You tell me that they probably think I’m pretty

But why is it that I suddenly feel shitty?

It didn’t look like admiration in their eye,

But I brush it off with a sad sigh;

 

I don’t bring it up for the rest of the night.

But if looks could bite

These men could’ve given me rabies,

But now you’ve rattled me with maybes

 

‘Cos maybe they want me to have their babies

(Which is a gross enough thought in itself).

But no, I pull my suspicions from the shelf,

I can’t deny the wary nature of myself,

 

Because maybe it’s a subtle stealth –

Beer by beer a racist’s inhibitions fall,

My brown skin a matchstick

To their flammable racist shawl.

 

I avoid their eyes,

But feel their’s burning into my back;

I am on edge and ready

Waiting for their attack.

 

But in the same breath,

I am showered with compliments.

Some of your friends tell me I’m beautiful

And that they’re glad we’re so suitable.

 

I’m in a pub – I shouldn’t be feeling perpetual doom!

I try to focus but he still stares at me from the bar,

He’s at the other end of the room

Yet it doesn’t feel all that far.

 

People talk to me but I barely hear

What is being said,

Because a new question runs

Through my pretty brown head.

 

It clouds my judgment,

And leaves my view distorted:

Does he think I’m pretty

Or does he just want me deported?

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