Vanishing Mother

A jar of Pond’s cold cream glows
in amongst her female debris
on the dressing table; talc
sprinkled with a lipstick smear
across a comb. Tissues fluff out of a slit –
half-done magic trick
beneath a heart-shaped mirror,
picturing the mess made of her room:
a king-sized bed stacked high
with queen-sized blankets.
It is like her clothes – layers but too small;
skirt hitched at the back;
hinge of bulky knees.

The open jar displays her haste,
a shield of foil jabbed into snowy peaks,
in contrast to her shade – the lightest brown
for someone black;
called dundus growing up – Jamaican for albino:
a throwback to slave masters
troubling our family line.
I long for it, the cream,
to smooth her blemishes. In adverts on TV,
white women own the miracle of cheekbones
that never sag as they stand tall
to gaze into a pond,
reflecting back their pristine skin.



Jenny Mitchell has won several poetry competitions. A best-selling debut collection Her Lost Language is a Jhalak Prize #bookwelove; and One of 44 Books of 2019 (Poetry Wales). A forthcoming collection, Map of a Plantation (IDP), will be published in April 2021. Jenny Mitchell – Indigo Dreams

Twitter: @jennymitchellgo