Charlotte Wetton – Two poems

Slave Lodge, Cape Town

At the Slave Museum, they have made a column of names
perspex, eight feet tall

Domingo of Bengal
Sijmen Ham van Madagascar
Magdalena Smith

the historians have come with their tweezers and soft brushes

Maria van de Kaap
Mira van Java

newly forged names with a hasp and a hinge
circular names that lead back to the lodge

Moses van Macassar
January of Malabaar

pick up a white man’s story – squeeze it
harder – scour his account books, floor plans, his last will and testament

Maria van Ceijlon
Titus van Mallebaar

crack it open and the smallest Russian doll tumbles out
black female – bequeathed furniture, various household items

Diana van Krankebaar
Cornelia van Nan

the historians are clothing the stripped – their coat-hanger names

Manuel van Negombo
Susanna van Semesia
Johannes van Batavia
unnamed of Madagascar
no name of Angola
no name of Angola




Across the country, women flare like beacons
batting the flames with bare, white hands

screaming. A servant runs for water
scullery bucket – teapot – anything –

They’re left bedraggled, stinking,
blackened jackdaws on the grate.

Sometimes a sombre doctor comes
and the baby’s lost

and blinds come down over frilled rooms
like a layer of ash.



Charlotte Wetton is based in West Yorkshire. Her first pamphlet, I Refuse to Turn into a Hat-Stand won the Michael Marks Awards 2017, following a spoken word album, Body Politic. She’s been published in Poetry Wales, Staple, Stand etc.  She has given workshops as part of the Bridlington Poetry Festival and Poetry at the Parsonage at the Bronte Museum. She regularly performs across the North, came second in last year’s the StAnza Festival Slam, and this year is performing at the Aldburgh and Ledbury Festivals.