American Muse: Jill McDonough


“Three a.m.”

Our cabdriver tells us how Somalia is better
than here because in Islam we execute murderers.
So, fewer murders. ‘But isn’t there civil war
there now? Aren’t there a lot of murders?’
Yes, but in general it’s better. Not
now, but most of the time. He tells us about how
smart the system is, how it’s hard to bear
false witness. We nod. We’re learning a lot.
I say—once we are close to the house—I say, ‘What
about us?’ Two women, married to each other.
‘Don’t be offended,’ he says, gravely. ‘But a man
with a man, a woman with a woman: it would be
a public execution.’ We nod. A little silence along
the Southeast Corridor. Then I say, ‘Yeah,
I love my country.’ This makes him laugh; we all laugh.
‘We aren’t offended,’ says Josey. ‘We love you.’ Sometimes
I feel like we’re proselytizing, spreading the Word of Gay.
The cab is shaking with laughter, the poor man
relieved we’re not mad he sort of wants us dead.
The two of us soothing him, wanting him comfortable,
wanting him to laugh. ‘We love our country,’
we tell him. And Josey tips him. She tips him well.

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