Poem: The Washingtonians

by Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

Because we want to define,
because we live in a time
when definitions matter, pinpointing
popular, (finger-pointing more so),
we've been asked to ask one another,
"Who are we, the people?"

We are Washingtonians,
not the team it sounds like--
the word means something else,
something diverse,
something exquisite,
an expensive al-la-carte meal.

We are educated, inundated,
make-doers and doers,
order-givers and request-takers,
the nation's legal menu.

We use words like "politico"
"panacea" and "pundit."
We label people "liberals"
or "neo-cons," "Libertarians"
and "Progressives." We are lobbyists,
lawyers and policy writers. We are advocates
and activists, following versions
of whatever Bible we believe in.

Swinging pungent leather briefcases,
we wear navy blue and black suits,
dark glasses and polished cufflinks,
(at least if we're Capital Hillians, we do).

We attend operas and art exhibits,
analyzing rich medium as if it were media:
"How does this thick, red paint reflect
the recent Congressional filibuster?"

Most of us are transplants and tourists,
come to stretch our personal freedom,
to reside beside our leaders, live every day
in the libraries and files of Democracy.

Few of us are "from here."
We are military or government
or contractors, and if we are from here,
we are military or government or contractors.

But we are also the ramshackle poor.

We sleep on benches and in boxes. On cracked
street corners, we beg for pennies. Our borrowed cars
and our schoolyards stare with hungry children.

The names of our heroes are engraved
in Arlington; the names of our streets
are states. All byways walk to Washington.

We grind our feet into marble stepped
monuments; we lead our personal tour groups.
We dare to declare to our visitors,
"This is the truth.
This is the REAL America."

We are Washingtonians.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  January 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Reader Submission
Previous: Potomac Fervor | Next: The Washingtonian: 'Power and Intrigue'


Please email us to report offensive comments.

This poem says it all! Good job.

Posted by: SAnn1 | January 30, 2009 5:08 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company