Mrs Howison from the Highlands;
her heaven chimed with Devon,
mine with midden.
Mrs McCanna, no stranger to a fish supper,
skin clammy with salt’n’vinegar,
declared me out-of-order.
Mr Beckham replaced his stroboscope
with a boy, propped on a box,
set to shout ‘flash’ every five seconds.
Mrs Cash balanced breasts and maths
on my shoulder until I keeled over
on first contact with her mouthwash.
These were my teachers
and I have spent my life unlearning
every lesson they taught me.
Today, in a grocery store, a stone’s throw
from Turin’s multi-ethnic
a child barged into me at the fish-counter.
Scusa, I said, with enough sarcasm
to poison an ocean.
He didn’t even look at me.
Foreigner of shit! he replied
in BBC vowels, and I wondered
who had taught him that one.
by Rob A. Mackenzie of Surroundings