Oonah Joslin

Tolerating Intolerance

by my pale and freckled complexion,
by my accent I suppose
the taxi driver takes a new direction
starts being rude about the Scotch
and of course I can’t agree and won’t agree
and don’t agree – nor do I interrupt.
It’s hardly worth it you see
I am not Scottish so he’s barking
up the wrong tree.
As I get out of the cab I say coldly
I am not Scottish by the way!
I have his number so I phone his boss.
Don’t ever send that prejudiced jackass
to pick me up again — I shout down the phone.
I’m at home – not in Northern Ireland now
but here in Northumberland
with my Welsh husband
among good colliery folk
and after all this time
anywhere for me can be home.
Yet I spend all night worrying whether he lost his job.
Was I being intolerant?
Was I a coward?
I go in circles but I don’t understand what just happened today.

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