When I read Bhaswati Ghosh’s beautiful poem this morning, I was reminded that the immigrant experience, in all its complexity, diversity and richness can still be reductive on some days. It was a while ago that I wrote this poem and sent it out into the (immigrant) world, and here it is below as well as in this anthology.

Every time
A check-out chick denies me
My right to be spoken to courteously
And the waitress at a cafe
In an upmarket suburb forgets to serve me

Every time
A bank teller speaks to me
Slowly and loudly
And my name is considered
Too much trouble to be pronounced correctly

Every time
An old man tells me
To go back to where I came from
And a woman at the supermarket curls her lip
At the green-eyed man who holds my hand

Every time
An academic questions the authenticity
Of my qualifications
And a writer says gently
I’m alright because I speak English properly

Every time
I teach a class on diversity
And a student wants to know
If I believe
In white australian christian values

Every time
I walk into a room
Where people talk about bloody muslim refugee terrorists
And someone says loudly
I don’t have a racist bone in my body but –

I wonder
If home is length of residency
Or accident of birth
Choosing to speak
Or silencing my