Illegal human

poem by Hamdi Khalif

‘I see you’ve brought your colours’ they hiss

and I shrunk under my technicolored coat

I know what they really mean. Why isn’t my soul as dark as my skin?

And I wonder what they picture when they think darkness

Is it a starless night
Or perhaps the backs of their shoes
Or is it ants drowning like black bodies in the Mediterranean

I wonder if they see me. Or if they see a leech. A monster. A piece of shit. Something. Anything. Other than human

‘Why are you here?’ they ask

I know they don’t care. The jingling in their pockets remind me of this.

And their tone…I don’t even have a word for this. Is there a word worth less than worthless?

I shift uncomfortably under my coat. Even though it’s chilly. I’m sweating under pressure.

‘You’re an illegal immigrant’

‘Do you understand what this means?’

Their words wound
The syllables like shots

Just one of the many my heart has endured

‘Take off your coat’ they order

And I instinctively cross my arms around my chest

‘Take it off’

My sealed lips say ‘no’

They yank it off me

They shouldn’t have done that

My soul spits out words they’ll never understand