Maria Oshodi

We Free in DC 

Flying there,  by the seat of our pants
one pair bloodied and the other piss stained.  
Ladies, accidents will happen.  

Landing, is it Metro bus, taxi or shuttle?
Do we have the correct dollars for the bus to Roslin?
On board, speeding to the droll of a bored driver. 
Switching, with cases, an escalator sinks into a Metro’s mineshaft.  
Strange signs peer in at each stop, 
Pentagon City, 
Ronald Reagan Airport,
Foggy Bottom?  
King Street is ours  for the Embassy Suite. 

Where, doors slide, divide, 
from streets soaking in September  sun, 
To air con cool  caverns.  

Glass lift rises, past stacked balcony walkways, 
Luggage dropped in rooms bulking with new repro furniture.
Fixed flat screen TV’s, 
Rolling Family guy, 
Fox News quizzing the marital status of Condi Rice, 
The killing of a US Ambassador by those A-rabs, 
And how amazing ‘Ali Andrew’ can raise your drooping butt. 

Get away, the lift, glides back down, 
Only to open into a bar  
where the nasal  whine of Friday-free corporates, 
make statements still bound to  the business of the week, 
broken by  the obligated attempt to make a hit, 
On her, me, so weak is it.  

In the morning, pulled by a proud toot, 
Finding captured in our 5th floor window, 
the West Virginia Express, paused at the station across the road, 
Tempting Blue mountains, ridged  trails, a nation’s birth.

But, obliged to breakfast  on the ground -floor, 
We are Among these tables viewed from the balconies above, 
Around which Other conference candidates are spied, 
Circling between the Cooked , fruit and bread  barricades.

For Three days sucked around the lobby’s Weeping Water feature, 
breaking out to a room of many tables, 
where the right tribe  promises liberty, 
at this International Crip Arts Expo.
the Air choked with  fanged ambition and bleeding solidarity.

Across earphone interference, Marylou’s audio description   murmurs  through, 
As if she is still in Baltimore, when she is only on the other side of the room.  
Emancipating the obvious, but failing to convey 

Anointed Jackie,  trailed by her loyal interpreters, 
Darren  wheeling his hung-over self alaDanny La  Ru, 
The ardent out fall of Jenny’s damaged brain, 
Christine’s elongated  hand taking a DC guy in marriage, 
Josette’s crackling protest fire for Deaf Black Swedes, 
And Jonathan wearing the glinting medal of his learning-disabled uncle 
While Shamus’s lilt, differentiates 
the difference of our difference, 
Is that with our minority, 
anyone can make an appearance 

Tom then carts his self-effacement around the  chairs, 
That seat chattering Brits, 
, crip confederates from Chicago, 
Self-righteous South African ‘ables’, 
and  champing Aussie activists 

Over it all, the  sovereign ‘Kennedy’s’ simper, 
lead their deep breathing , 
trip between us, jazzed,
keeping covert the key 
that holds the meaning, to this knotted maze. 
Where, slick words   with a hip twist, side-step action, 
To dislocate true inclusion.  
What the fuck is a Pechakucha  ?  
A 6-minute torrent of images cascading behind my back. 
With a bridge  to vision broken, flailing, does  this talk of mine connect?
“how did you pace that?” Jenny blares It was great!
Was it? How would I know? 
And, from then I shut down into silence.

Sitting  at a table in warm  morning  air, 
the iPhone speaks my emails, 
while fountains nearby tinkle politely, 
All Conspiring to delay, together with a late spinach omelette. 

Soon, the lobby clears, allowing us a swift slip through, 
and an escape onto Alexandria’s mock historic Main Street, 
from the hotel’s synthesised cool.
We search , an electric converter being our alibi
, And when CVS delivers, 
We meander  on , 
And find, A converter of another kind. 

Sombre horns, a brass band on the street corner  ahead, 
A soul baritone   echoing the Star-Spangled Banner,
We assume it’s remembrance, for today is September  11th.

Yet , moving on, and as a plaza  opens out, 
in the  fresh shining sun,  
A platform is centred in this public place.  
Lined up in front, a submissive queue, 
Turbans, dresses,  nations of every hew 
Neutralizing old shackles, stepping up to start anew.  
Aloud, they repeat  after an official, their  Oaths of conviction 
with each denouncing vowel they rinse, themselves of any former foe or foreign prince. 

Later we ride on the Metro to McPherson  where, 
like popping corn, 
Assisting faces spring out at every turn.  

The White  House  is there, 
But where is the Hill?  
It’s an area in the Capital Where Martin made his speech  yeah? 
“No, no, no” splutters a stammering guy, 
“You need the Reflecting Pool” 
The what?
Then directed, We  follow the Potomac, 
And Sauntering aside its  wide ancient wisdom, 
Burnished waters flow in the full evening sun, 
Cars glint, joggers squint, soft breezes  slide by.
“Just carry on, through the park,  keep on this road and …”

Now...  Everything falls away , opens out in expanse,
purpose draws  us across, 
To a central pillared Acropolis .

“Oh, it’s that big stone guy sitting in a chair!”

And we climb the flights of proud steps.

“When I was little, This is one of the pictures I had  on  my view-finder”
And we laugh.
Time has held up its hands. 
Something, in the end, has found us, 
while below the rectangle of the still pool, reflects  the moment back

We return hungry to Alexandria, 
Dine at an empty Moroccan, 
but we are wedged in by the smiling proprietor, 
who echoes between  gleaming implants, that,
“You know, the West is best, and here, my life is so free”.

Maria Oshodi ©