With many thanks to Cicely Gill for letting us publish her poem here which she originally posted, together with the following words, on social media pages last month. Cicely is a poet and writer who lives on Arran.
What’s on my mind? Well BLM of course.
I want to share with you a poem I wrote I think, in the 90s, which describes how I felt age 16. I used to think of myself as a white person in a black skin. Now I have learnt that it is the visual that counts for most people. Then I knew nothing about black culture. Now I know more–enough to feel very upset inside about Geo Floyd and the aftermath. I mean reading and listening to article after video re the daily discrimination undergone by black people in the UK. But we have to fix this together, black and white together.
The Black Girl in the Emerald Coat. Northampton 1963
She stood there waiting for
me, as hot from victory,
I changed from running gear to normal clothes
and felt worse fear than on the track.
She went on waiting
At last I went out —
there was no other door —
and asked her what she wanted:
‘I thought I might know you,’
she said simply. My heart trembled
at her eyes and I answered,
‘I don’t think so.’
There were no black girls except me
in my home town fourteen miles away.
After a polite conversation we parted.
I think I gave her my address.
When I reached home
my mother asked me if I had won
and I could not tell her, white as she was
that I hadn’t really taken part
in my own race.