We don’t serve Arabs
says the man behind the counter.
He fixes his eyes on me &
awaits my consent.
My Arab taxi driver
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.
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,
& 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.