So it’s been over a year since I lived in Washington. Remember all that? Go back to November 2014 (you can click on the archives filter and get to it fastest that way) and read all about it. Heartbreak, unrest, rats. Cold.
I was looking for another poem for another reason and remembered that I wrote this one and never shared it. It’s called “A Brief: Washingtonian” and I rather like it. The meter does stay consistent throughout but you have to practice to get the emphasis on the proper word in some of the verses. (Believe me, I know; I worked on this a long time!)
I hope you enjoy this poem. It’s pretty melancholy but it’s also meant to be sort of sweet.
A Brief: Washingtonian
by Mary Fons (c) 2015
From my art deco castle, I surveyed the land
The rivers, the sidewalks, Msr. L’Enfant’s plan;
The rain days were my best days; I felt kingdom come;
Connecticut Avenue an elephant’s trunk;
I signed the thick lease on December the First,
And I lived in that city and I watched from my perch.
When crinoline petticoat clouds would descend
And wring out the water that they’d been washed in,
The valley would deepen right in front of my eyes;
I loved every tree and miss the mist so:
It sifted the raindrops and slicked all the leaves,
And I’d watch from my throne with a hot cup of tea.
“You live in Washington?” the people would say,
“But how did you get there? and why would you stay?”
(I slouched there in sadness, cast out of Chicago
And New York left a rotted taste in my mouth;
When I fell in D.C. I hit the ground gently;
Not something you count on when you fall accidentally.)
Sovereign Washington straddles two states:
The first offers mountains and wrought iron gates
That open to Arlington’s coveted park;
I saw storms roll in during burials there;
Boys keep on dying; girls at graves must remain —
Virginia’s for lovers and lovers love the rain.
The other half lives where Baltimore stays;
For Maryland’s only the Beltway away;
Colonist gentry ate plenty of land,
But the pushed, angry fringes refuse to go silent;
Molotov cocktails still light the sky,
We’ve two hundred years of the Fourth of July.
Old Gore Vidal said that D.C. was dead;
All of those legends in a rose garden bed;
All the past generals we’re ordered to owe;
Fathers who stand after years in the ground;
All of these corpses, cemented in stone
And we visit them, worship them, celebrate bones.
Young men in bowties walk to work on the Hill;
Scotch-swilling yes-men have secrets to spill;
They quench and they drench blue blazer lapels,
They pinch all the a**es in reach of their booth;
What hath the rules wrought, what shall become
Of a nation divided, of the coming undone.
Still the hovering District has life stuffed inside;
Buses and restaurants serving the tide
Of young men and women with audible smiles;
Lives here are mixed every way that can mean;
Art anchors the landscape from border to line;
Within days of arrival, I claimed all as mine
And furnished my life there and tastefully, too;
My gorgeous appointment near the National Zoo;
I mixed high and low and the ending result
Was a chamber at once both cozy and gilded;
I worked there and cooked there and looked at my hands
I slept there and kept there and made all sorts of plans.
Then confused, I felt moved to leave D.C. behind;
I could tell all the reasons, but oh, nevermind;
I heid back to Chicago, the prodigal daughter;
Welcomed, embraced, she never stopped loving me;
My loyalty lives there — now returned, so do I,
I was never much more than a Washington spy.
In May, cherry blossoms kiss rows of trees;
I missed them that year (typical me);
I’ll visit them, though, sometime in the future
And try to remember what I needed that year;
I’ll touch the perfume and I’ll be okay —
And I’ll walk through the orchard, queen for a day.