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Published July 7, 2019
"Bethlehem" by Rebecca Ruth Gould - 45 Poems of Protest
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Bethlehem

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

My Arab taxi driver is unfazed.
Racism has long inhabited
these Roman ruins.
Politeness takes over.

We head for the car.
The road bears silent witness to atrocity.
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,
revealing the glare of the sun.


Biography
Rebecca Ruth Gould's poems and translations have appeared in Nimrod,
Kenyon Review, Tin House, The Hudson Review, Salt Hill, and The Atlantic
Review
. 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).  Her poem “Grocery Shopping” was a
finalist for the Luminaire Award for Best Poetry in 2017, and she is a
Pushcart Prize nominee.

Website:
rrgould.hcommons.org
Twitter: @rrgould
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Bethlehem
Special Project: 45 Poems of Protest
by Rebecca Ruth Gould
(Bristol, England, United Kingdom)
Smaller header image for Facebook; images shows a sunrise behind windmills.