Oh, how they quivered!

They shuffled in their seat,

they looked at each other,

their heart missed a beat.

Not sure it was a triumph.

It was clear they were caught

unawares of something.

Some unsavoury thought?

They had to ask me

the diversity question:

‘how would you ensure

no discrimination’

‘I’m a walking example’

I usually say

in such interviews

and that goes down okay.

But not this time.

There is unease.

Something’s not right.

A sudden wind’s breeze.

I continued about my accent,

the speed of my talking,

my animated presence…

What was so shocking?

They looked at each other,

they shuffled in their seat,

they clasped their fingers

their heart missed a beat.

I said I’m aware

of how I am perceived,

therefore, I empathise

with others aggrieved.

I said I’m aware

I may not fit expectations,

it is easy for someone

to form misconceptions,

make assumptions for people,

think they are not going to fit,

perhaps not good performers,

not well equipped.

May I have done mind reading?

I may have called their bluff

or simply I was honest;

I take risks with such stuff.

Their faces went ashen.

Did I hit a nerve?

There was discomfort,

the wrong kind of verve.

The job was a promotion,

during restructure,

infighting, competition,

an ailing culture.

The boss on the panel,

and the boss’s peer,

same stock, no diversion,

no hope, it was clear.

They thanked me for my time,

they’d let me know soon.

Of course, I didn’t get it.

Back in my cocoon.

In some way a triumph:

I caught them out, some proof.

But…feeling decimated,

my anger hit the roof.

That was my cue to exit

this place of no hope,

somewhere away from bias,

my future to re-scope.

We need to keep our eyes peeled,

not fall for the illusion,

what we need is not ticked box,

belonging, not inclusion.