More than forty years here, each time passing these places, I recall:
Farragut Park, I’m performing street theatre here for National Secretaries Day,
a feminist play highlighting bias, equal rights and equal pay.
My father saw the end of my scene, years later we saw Occupy camped out here.
Sheridan Circle, around embassies we hold hands, visualizing solidarity, together
all across America, challenging homelessness. Aware of the bomb blown up here ten years earlier,
killing a Chilean and American, who’d dared and were martyred in the endless quest for justice.
14th and Rhode Island, I gasped as women in short shorts approached the cars,
today sharp women in short cocktail dresses crowd into the trendy bars.
Step forward – back – sideways. Emancipate now, we yell to the stars.
Georgetown’s ‘One Step Down’ on a date with my forever mate. Step up to my first
walk-up job, the computer takes up an entire wall, as I hope for trust.
On a balcony 20 years later, 911; seeing and smelling smoke from the Pentagon.
Lincoln Monument to US Capitol – ma, baby, and I walk tall at the pro-choice rally
Busses arrive, meet, march: protest invasions, sanctuary for immigrants immediately,
Say no to immoral presidency, Pro human and civil rights, Anti-discrimination. On and on.
Dupont Circle, home to the Gay Pride parade, people play chess on the circle, day laborers – weary –
wait for pick up. Dealing nickel-bags no more, now selling at legal respectable dispensary.
Glad Sunday street-market, book-café stay; sad bead store, burritos, pizza, and murals move away.
GW, where my father worked, second baby was born, health fairs – education amid illness.
As buildings are displacing residents, I flash on the soup kitchens and free clinics in the churches.
‘There’s the Watergate,’ we tell tourists, wishing we’d learned more from this site of scandal and lies.
Military Road crosses state avenues, sleepy houses here, near rock creek, a forest.
The neighborhood where my kids were raised, where my parents finally laid, in peace may they rest.
Pass the avenue, up the hill, their school – then watch your speed after the circle to Maryland.
Columbia Heights, a charter school hall, gathering Affordable Care enrollments,
we hear “VIP from the White House arriving,” hoping for Obama, instead it’s
Joe Biden who speaks: “fair health care for all.” I say to him: “keep up the good work.”
Tunnel under Capital; claustrophobia recedes to traffic, terror, cruel insanity.
Road to the river, wharf, fish market, onto the stadiums, then bridges lead to the Chesapeake Bay –
waters merging yet dividing our city like railroad tracks of the have and have-nots.
Logan, one more man on a horse, another circle of mansions. On a one-way street our home rests
Built 130 years ago when that horse galloped down brick streets and was tied up to our posts –
like we park cars. Constructed post-civil war, survived civil rights riots; now renovated, gentrified.
Like the Potomac River flowing from mountains to bay, we notice, react, and move on –
An experienced adult educator teaching English language and creative writing, Ruth encourages sharing stories. She has coordinated, advised, and taught in Washington DC since 1977. Raised in Madison and Chicago, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, she co-authored: What’s Ahead? Transitioning from Adult Education to a Career (ProLingua Assoc. 2013).