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21ST-CENTURY POETRY The Chair by Claire Booker

Something wired about her face
makes me stop scrolling down. I’m sucked
into those eyes, the dark shine of her skin;
the expression I can’t quite place.

She seems unsettled in her blue gown,
and the cap clamping her head. It’s the end
of lockdown and hairdressers have been busy
since midnight. I wonder what treatment this is.

The image is electric, bursting out of itself.
Chubby white fingers, just in shot, apply a kind
of gel to her temple. The chair, socially distanced,
is too solid, somehow excessive.

Then I notice her wrists, her ankles, the straps.
She’s snatching at final moments.

African-American prisoners are disproportionately represented on death row. The US Supreme Court does not acknowledge statistical bias as a reason to overturn an individual’s sentence. Claire Booker lives in Brighton. Her pamphlet The Bone That Sang is due out from Indigo Dreams. 21st-century Poetry is edited by Andy Croft, email [email protected]



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