The Immigrant Order Pickers by Antony Owen

For minimum wage and break-time Haribo she’d work till dawn
then go outside where birthplaces start with zero next to Agency Dave
who is forty nine years old reliving where it all went wrong in a box of glass.

From ten to six in the morning she’ll pick five hundred and twenty items and
twenty over target means she’s made them a mint so her cut’s two quid and pence
She’s two miles closer to her sister in Bucharest and maybe real coffee from ailse twelve.

I’ve seen them half way into their shift when a red light lets them out the immigrant order pickers vaping cumulus in their grey concrete sky and god they look so tired of being here
so they are going there, back to Tirana, Krakow, or cities of Aleppo myth.

I’ve seen them in the canteen darkness drinking pop out chicory,
it’s how you learn to say fuck in polish or God in Aramaic.
This is my country they take me to and they help me,
They help me arrive
help me depart.
Depart with
me arrive
with us
now
my
f
r
i
e
n
d
s.

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