by Jenny Mitchell, with image by Martin Gollan
They will not show this on the evening news –
our mother kneeling down at Number Ten –
a place of work and routine bacchanals –
to scrub red wine stains from the office carpet.
As vomit hits the wall above her head,
the PM wipes his chin, glass held in the air.
Spit flies out of his mouth, pollutes the air,
with yet another garbled toast to A new
day – just like the old, him standing at the head,
to help his chosen people keep control. Ten
men and women dance around the carpet,
close to mother’s arm, to cheer the bacchanal.
The PM sees her then, mouths Bacchanal,
shouting that A cleaner’s head is full of air!
He explains the word, feet spread on the carpet,
followed by You’ve missed a spot, old girl. New
crates of wine are plonked onto the table, ten
bottles still with dregs, music coming to a head.
Our PM starts a waddling dance, nods his head,
wine spilling from the glass to toast the bacchanal
as he sings out of tune The Winner Takes It All, ten
times, louder-still as Abba fades into the fetid air.
Mother tries to crawl away but cat-calls are renewed
for her to polish shoes, kneeling on the carpet.
The PM joins in with this call, offers her ten
pounds to lick his leather clean. He shouts The carpet
has to be made new, aims a kick close to her head,
falling in a heap, demanding to be helped. The air
is filled with threats they won’t show on the news,
even when we know about the many bacchanals.
Ten people and the PM break the law – a bacchanal
for the law-makers, sore-headed the next day, air
rank with sick still on a carpet mother must renew.
Jenny Mitchell is winner of the Ware Poetry Prize, the Folklore Prize, the Segora Prize, the Aryamati Prize, the Fosseway Prize, a Bread and Roses Award and joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2019. A best-selling debut collection, Her Lost Language, is one of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales). A second collection, Map of a Plantation, published by Indigo Dreams, has been shortlisted for the Poetry Book Awards.