They said, I said, I didn’t.

They said you were a color, a sex, an age, a background, a passport, a worker, a difference.

I said you were a person, an experience, a culture, a friend.

I read, I shouted, I appealed, I kicked, I cried.

I said this was unfair, the world was going mad, and surely people should know better.

Up against the world and better than all the others, I was, I said.

But ‘Hi’ is all you said and ‘Hi back’ is all you asked.

‘Forget the laws, stop hiding behind others’ hatred and blindness, lift the veil and give me a smile.’

You smiled, you held out your hand,

and all I could do was raise the walls even higher

so that I could freely read, shout, appeal, kick and cry behind my walls, on my own.

‘I want to help you, my friend’, I said,

yet I saw my reflection in them,

pointing at your color, your sex, your age, your background, your passport, your work,

your difference.

Safely veiled beneath my imaginary conscience,

cautiously tucked in the blanket of my perfect world,

I waved at you,

but I didn’t see them and me, standing side by side, in the reflection of your mournful eyes.

You put on a sadly understanding smile and said ‘Thank you’, and walked away,

and still, I didn’t see my hypocrisy weighing down on your departing shoulders.

I said I would fight for you, but I didn’t smile at you.

I said I would cry for you, but I didn’t greet you.

I said I was your friend, but I failed to see you.

I saw you as a shield for my feigned care, as the beaming torch I would proudly show them,

but all the while, all you asked was

a nod of recognition,

a carelessly written message inquiring upon your daily errands,

a foolish and meaningless smile.

But I didn’t.

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