the entitlement when these white men sit
close to me on an empty bench, a lonely street
they ask me where i’m from.
Australia, i say, with gritted teeth.
no, they say, smiling. they think i’ve misunderstood.
where are you really from?
the words make my blood boil.
where are they from? can they trace, do they know?
she accosts me in the street. namaste, she says.
i look at her blankly. my only language is english.
do you know what that means, she asks.
my eyes close with frustration.
does she? i look at her hands, marked
faint traces of henna in meaningless patterns
she thinks she knows what my skin colour means
she knows nothing of brownness.
it’s the children who turn away when i smile
teeth white, headlights at small faces
i make eye contact and they frown, confused
i think they must have never seen someone
who looks like me. dark hair, dark skin,
lips two different colours, gold in my nose.
i’m a foreign object in this white suburb
their fear and confusion starts young.