A black man and a white man

Step into a room together

And ever so carefully

Peel off their skin

Folding it neatly

Over the back of a chair

Before taking a seat

Directly across the table from one other

Staring deeply into the other’s soul

A blood sample is taken from both men

Two vials of the deepest red

Placed on the table in front of them

Followed shortly by a set of fingerprints

A series of questions are put to them

And they silently write down their answers in response

They both compile a list of their favourite food and drinks

The sports teams they support

Styles of music that play in the background while they work:

one of them is a surgeon, the other a plumber

Series they have binged, followed by

Movies that have made them gasp in fear

and others that have made them cry.

Then spend some seconds scribing

Their hopes and dreams for the future

That speak of family and security and

Wild adventures in far off places.

There is a steady kind of rhythm to proceedings in this cold and empty room

A kind of dance that ebbs and flows

Question posed, followed by a moment of thought, then both men leaning into their responses

And on and on it goes…

Until one last ask finally creates a momentary blip

“Tell me about your experiences growing up in this country.”

Followed by a time for thought and as always leaning into response

But this time only one man writes, efficiently and systematically

As the other appears frozen.

Lost in thought perhaps.

A barely noticeable drop of salt water dissolving on the page in front of him.