PAD / 010 -trying to love your two mothers is a dangerous game if you have to put your life on the line in the name of justice

Black Britain: A Photographic History edited by Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy

PC Gumbs, London’s first black policeman
image 09/09/68

My mother says to rub vaseline into my neck
and the collar, to stop the rub; soften the wool.
They say make sure you wear the white bands on your arms,
otherwise they’ll only see ya teeth in the dark.
Only good enough to direct traffic, they roar with laughter.
Brillo pad hair. Toilet set lips.
I say nothing. I recognise the privilege
to wear serve Queen and country.

They say I’m a coconut, sell out, slave
to the white man and Babylon.
They do not spare their vitriol against me.
I survive in the liminal spaces, in the shades of grey.
No one admits the fight has to be from within.
The ranks have to unfiltered by difference.
My mother brought me up on wishes
from velvet green isle;

always with an eye and heart on the other mother.

My birth mother is proud even if this adopted mother
chooses to turn her back, allowing my brothers
in blue to kick the shit out of me too.

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