We don’t serve Arabs

says the man behind the counter.

He fixes his eyes on me &

awaits my consent.


My Arab taxi driver 

blinks, unfazed.

Racism has long abided 

in his home. 


Politeness takes over.

We head for the car.

The ride is smooth & silent.

Barren valleys cascade one after another.


God is a strange creature,

I think to myself.

What idiot would choose this sterile land

for launching his career?


We reach Bethlehem: checkpoint 300.

I disembark.

Arabs are not allowed

to cross like white women


with American passports.

I journey by foot to the two-storied

white limestone building

I’ve been calling home.


I pass tourists in t-shirts,

Banksy portraits,

& soldiers armed with kalashnikovs.

Like the racist at the counter—


like every well-heeled politician—

like every international law—

armed soldiers avert their gaze

& reveal the glare of the sun.


Rebecca Ruth Gould's chapbook is Berlin-Damascus-Bethlehem (Origami Poems Project, 2019). She translates from Persian, Russian, and Georgian, and has translated books such as After Tomorrow the Days Disappear: Ghazals and Other Poems of Hasan Sijzi of Delhi (Northwestern University Press, 2016) and The Death of Bagrat Zakharych and other Stories by Vazha-Pshavela (Paper & Ink, 2019). She was a finalist for the Luminaire Award for Best Poetry and (together with Kayvan Tahmasebian), Lunch Ticket's Gabo Prize (both in 2017), and is a Pushcart Prize nominee.

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