Where are you from? She asked me
Still cradling my green passport in her chalk-white hands
Failing to take the initiative to check the cover of the booklet
Upon which lay imprinted in gold marking
the answer to her absurd question.
Nigeria. I said in a tone that betrayed an annoyance
for having to state it when I did not have to.
I knew it. She knew it too.
All the while, a smile remained plastered
To my blackboard face, as one had been taught to never look
angry when dealing with Oyinbo people
Who wielded a degree of power.
Of course, I knew the reason why. My charcoal skin,
when crumpled like abandoned Christmas wrapping,
Communicated only one thing—aggression.
So, one advertised a fluorescent grin
That communicated the opposite of what
Boiled in the chamber pot of choice
expletives one might desire to yell.
You don’t sound like you’re from there.
What accent is that? She asked me,
piercing my body with polluted awe.
She was referring to my vanilla-soaked
British accent, cultivated only to be used
when dealing with foreigners.
But I wondered what one from ‘there’ would sound like.
I suppose a series of clicks and clacks produced by
my wooden tongue, fashioned from an Iroko tree would be
At that moment, as myself, wherein I felt like myself,
yet was not myself, I realized one
thing—I had fallen short of her expectations
and turned out to be not African enough.