Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Precursor to The Butler

A few years ago at the AWP Conference held in Washington D.C. I experienced a "Sighting" so vivid I wrote a poem about it. At the time, I understood that domestics must have played an important role in the social life of the capitol.

Domestic Sighting

Summoned at dawn
In search of Starbucks
At the Omni Shoreham
in Washington DC
I take the other elevator
Leading to the basement
Into a dead space I see
A legion of grey-clad maids
With frilly aprons and long skirts
Descend down the stairs opposite me
to the Palladian room with crystal chandelier
I’m curious who these Black ladies are
Some crippled gripping the railing 
Their bodies ample and tangible
In crisp attire of formality
Their faces glowing

Only later do I ask myself what are they doing 
Then and there, in uniforms of another era
as they congregate in the large empty ballroom
at 6:00 AM