when I ask about his religion,
that he is Muslim
on his mother’s and father’s sides
of his family.
when I wonder
what other sides exist,
says that he is Protestant
because of his neighbor.
He lets the shorter sister know
he does not drink
because he is Muslim,
informs Sunday a minute later
while heading down the stairs
that he is going out drinking,
tells a third participant
a moment after that
because he is Muslim,
and then shakes his head
with knowing disapproval
when Sister Giovanna,
who calls me ruffiano,
and who told us
she could communicate
with her Spanish
but prefers to sing with her Italian
for being an American
who consumes wine like beer.
Tedi, who identified the prisoner
and the social worker
in the healing environment picture
who skipped the computer training
to go to Rome
and watch the Champions League’s Cup.
“Jeff, it’s the most beautiful stadium in the world,”
his eyes glowing
with joyful anticipation.
Tedi, who head butts me in the stomach
as he enters the bus,
and punches me
a little harder
than is comfortable
on the shoulder
as we stand at the monastery’s back door.
Tedi, who assigned his roommates
to look for the passport he thought he lost:
Mohamed the first floor;
Neil the Yankee
scouring the cobble-stoned street;
while he focused on the room they share.
who told Barbara in the front office in Italian,
“I am going to ask you a question
and I want the answer to be Yes.”
And nearly danced a jig
when it was
because the nuns had had it all along.
Tedi makes sure
that Kathleen gets on the bus
and up the villa’s stairs
and yells down the second-floor hallway
to make sure that anyone
who wants to come to dinner joins us
so that no one is excluded.
Tedi, who works with police torture victims
and helps them heal.
Round faced, stubbly Tedi,
who resembles the school boy
he once was
when his sturdy doughy body
convulses with high-pitched laughter.
Mysterious, fantastical Albanian Tedi,
who encourages me to see the meaning
that exists in every Italian joke,
who argues with loud
with a man giving us directions
to the Golden Ass,
a restaurant that no longer exists.
Tedi, who I would consider trusting with my life,
but would be more than a little nervous
and would probably close my eyes
and gulp a lot
as we set off on our adventures together.