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False Muse - Aya Hilal

my father’s taxicab is an altar to

dreams passed and the poison of this country.

it is scummy, and the seats are chipped, and one of the seatbelts is broken.

the radio is blabbing.

it stays that way all day long

blah

blah

blah

my father bundles through Chicago, his mind a map and the radio his muse.

the election and

foreign policy and

climate change and

the most vile irony imaginable.

my father is absolute steel -

he weathers the storm of the Gold Coast.

Chicago’s elite board his taxicab and my father’s gaze

meets the butler’s

wide eyes, flashing.

my father once told me of a talk he had with someone who carried an old white woman’s bags.

the man loaded up the trunk and came around to the window as she

scurried down the steps in her eight-hundred dollar shoes.

the man spoke with hatred, bile rising in his throat.


he spoke of thoughts of violence, of unequivocal rage, of humiliation

my father has wrinkles and pallid brown skin and red eyes

that burn with exhaustion.

“driver”

that’s his new name, pressed into his skin with an iron-hot brand.

he is “driver”, and they are “passenger” and the hierarchy makes my

blood freeze when he speaks about it.

white people board his cab, and they speak pompously of political parties

they speak down to him, elongating their syllables to make sure he understands.

the assumption of stupidity clings to the air like the smell of garbage.

my father grits his teeth and drives, and they go on and on, their voices a thin whine.


my father was a political science major.


Bio:

Aya Hilal is a Moroccan-American high school senior from Illinois. Her work has been published in Blue Minaret. She is passionate about anti-imperialism and media analysis. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, playing video games, and reading DC comics.

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