1980s Identity Girl is short, 

a shade over 5ft.

She smiles like the rest of us, 

carries books like the rest of us, 

skin tone like the rest of us, 

dances like the rest of us,

desires to be seen, like the rest of us.


Identity Girl is low, 

head lifted above the parapet.

Tied-back Afro-hair, 

wide-rimmed 1970s newscaster glasses.

She attaches herself 

to Miss Self-Esteem:

Ebony Wonder woman,

Skyscraper academic grades,

the physique of an Amazonian volleyball player, 

Nigerian, 6ft in flat shoes, sleek walk,

always wore trousers, waistcoats, 

the first to be asked onto the dance-floor, 

if she wasn’t already there.


Identity Girl struggled:

the studies, the workload, the parental expectation,

the ‘Do you know who The Black Amazonian is dating?’

Drowning in an audio sea of what ifs?

What if I fail? What if I am not good enough?

Have you noticed how the rhythm of the train home 

sounds like ‘Alawada’, a Yoruba word that means Clown?

What do you want?

Attention, a makeover, a boyfriend.


Identity Girl relaxed her hair, long flowing, 

then straight formed into a bob 

like a 1970s newscaster.

New white tottering high-heeled shoes. 

Budget-busting, no use for dancing in.

Offset balance,

rosy red cheeks and lipstick.

It was still the same Identity Girl underneath.


The beats played on.

Identity Girl doesn’t know what year it is 

or what tune will get her out of bed in the morning.

A doctor,

gave her some tablets.

Have you heard the news?

Identity Girl dropped out, nobody has seen her.

She could have been any one of us.



Doctors can now prescribe dance classes on the NHS.

Lionz of East London