from  Don't Let Me Be Lonely: “I don't usually talk to strangers...”

I don't usually talk to strangers, but it is four o'clock and I can't get a cab. I need a cab because I have packages, but it's four o'clock and all the cabs are off duty. They are making a shift change. At the bus stop I say, It's hard to get a cab now. The woman standing next to me glances over without turning her head. She faces the street where cab after cab drives by with its light off. She says, as if to anyone, It's hard to live now. I don't respond. Hers is an Operation Iraqi Freedom answer. The war is on and the Department of Homeland Security has decided we have an elevated national-threat level, a code-orange alert. I could say something, but my packages are getting heavier by the minute and besides, what is there to say since rhetorically it's not about our oil under their sand but about freeing Iraqis from Iraqis and Osama is Saddam and Saddam is “that man who tried to kill my father” and the weapons of mass destruction are, well, invisible and Afghanistan is Iraq and Iraq is Syria and we see ourselves only through our own eyes and the British, but not the French, and Germany won't and Turkey won't join us but the coalition is inside Baghdad where the future is the threat the Americans feel they can escape though there is no escaping the Americans because war, this war, is about peace: “The war in Iraq is really about peace. Trying to make the world more peaceful. This victory in Iraq, when it happens, will make the world more peaceful.”

 
Claudia Rankine, “I don’t normally talk to strangers… (p. 113)" from Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. Copyright © 2004 by Claudia Rankine.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.
Source: Don't Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf Press, 2004)