$55 from Q st. to Washington Dulles on Memorial Day

The taxi driver I stop is happy to hear I am Dutch
he has studied at the prestigious ISS in The Hague
Shows me his Masters degree
and another from Maryland
in a clean manila envelope full of education
extracted for me to authenticate
Two Masters degrees…
and I drive a taxi…
My friend is a Professor
We were students together 15 years ago

I jumped in front of his taxi right near the Sunday market
An Ethiopian
I know Ethiopians, have lived in Addis Ababa
when Mengistu was a terror and Ethiopians terrorized
A Gujarati I befriended at the new cupcake bar on 20th lived in Zambia
her son leaped on me at first sight, undid my blouse, patted my breast,
clung fast to my neck and dropped a cool string of spit
straight down my cleavage as she pulled him off
Explained sheepishly, surrounded by white Washingtonians:
He has an eye for our skin, blacks…especially women…He misses his aya
I have this same response to Ethiopians
my eye is drawn to them first,
Before the other races,
And it is a gentle gaze
I do not cling to them,
But I feel like they will not throw me off if I tried

It is true I do not speak to Ethiopians
But it is different in a car,
the proximity of the cab marks silence between two Africans as enmity
So I reveal that I was a child in Addis, and he exclaims
your father was an Ambassador! mock reproachful
Affirmative: My father was an Ambassador
He is not so clever – even a blind fool
should recognize himself
This Ethiopian taxi driver looks at me
only when I tell him I have a PhD
I am coming to teach at a good American University and I am just a girl
We are riding through Georgetown,
and he chews his tongue slowly,
because it is almost unpleasant seeing me again, his ghost
Do you know a Professor? De Wit?
That’s right…the man must be retired years…
That man loved me very much…I ate at his house…
I was a good student….exceptional…a father to me…
De Wit begged me not to go to America…
He told me it was not the dream I was expecting…
He offered me the chance to do a PhD with him
I was…special
But I was young…Why would I listen? But my friend listened…
He is comfortable now, an intellectual…his kids are intellectuals…
and you, you listened…look at you
We look at me
We look away from me
We drop the subject
it is paining

We move to the immigrant’s feel good pastime
Pulling apart the things America prides itself on,
religion, family values and democracy
You will see religion in America is a cult…
people are fervent, but priests are not preaching the Bible…
They are coaching the congregation
teaching them the 7 best habits…how to be CEO of your life
I make the sign of the cross, saying solemnly
‘the sparrow, the eagle and the holy dove’
just something I picked up in an Episcopalian Church
He is delighted
So you have seen for yourself!
Yes that’s how we pray in America…You know what real faith is?
He is testing me now to see how smart I am,
Not how many degrees I have but really if I will be a smart immigrant one day
I speak slowly
Real faith is not easy…It’s hard…
a full Church means the Priest is preaching pop culture…
real faith requires…
‘Humility’ we say this word together loudly
We do not look at each other as we say it,
but we are not surprised at our