Inferior

The Battleship Building
is located on Harrow Road
in Paddington, London.
You go there if you need a visa
because you are not ‘western’, and so you must
negotiate the parameters of your inferiority
with private companies hired by
‘developed countries’ to enter their frontiers.
It is cold, ugly and uninviting.
I wouldn’t blame you
if you never went to
battleship building.
Inside,
under the fluorescent light,
there are
counters 1 to 4 to the right
and counters 5 to 25 to the left.
Counters made of bullet proof glass
disclosing distrust
(no contact please)
with small sheepish men standing behind
attending loathingly lower ranks of humanity.
Security guards with alert faces
pace around in case
something happens
during the long hours of sitting
by the multitudes of shades of
brown people: people waiting
for their turn in ambiguity.
The security guards
stern at all times in case
the lower ranks somehow
wake up, if they suddenly realise
how ridiculous this all is
and rise up,
refuse to abide, stand up,
break the fucking glass and say
“Sir, how do you sleep at night?”
In case they become angry.
They don’t.
They wait for three and a half hours,
obediently.
Counters 5 to 25 to the left and
counters 1 to 4 to the right.
Their gods are
bitter with being
lesser ranking gods.
Their stories are
carved in to the hollows
of their eye sockets, dried like prunes
by waiting, set in faces
of unfavoured colours,
plump with bread,
skinny with
defiance.
They have proofs of addresses,
employment records,
housing contracts,
maiden names,
health insurances, hotel bookings, airplane tickets,
marriage licences, bank statements,
all the documents.
All the documents
that prove they are middle class non-criminals.
I am one of them
sitting in the room
next to the only white man.
The man I make love to.
It is his first time and last time waiting
in the battleship building;
he doesn’t have to.
He will never have to.
“I never imagined it was this bad
how can they treat people like this”
his privilege says over a hundred
indifferent brown individuals.
Those of unwanted heritage
waiting
for three and a half hours
in august
on average
to be denied access
or be granted entry.
I love him, so, I ignore his ignorance
and in any case later
I will be able to say
“you see?
you see the difference?
you see how
the world agrees you are superior to me?
How you can just walk into my country.”
He observes injustice for three and a half hours,
my reality becomes a good story to tell on occasion.
Still, I want to go where he goes,
I want to believe I am his equal.
So I wish for a piece of paper
with expensive glue and a criminalising
photograph of me to dangle
from a booklet that claims
I am fit to enter the country
he now roams in.
I wait obediently
amongst the shades of brown
and their gods of inferiority.
I am not angry
sitting and waiting in this battleship.
I am not angry.
I am not screaming my lungs out yet,
not yet.
At least not until I am denied the visa,
at least not until I am told
I am not fit to get in,
then I will be escorted
out of this building.

*to see more photographs by Luca Miles please follow this link.

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