Diptych: Two Americas in Capitol Hill By Pamela Huber

Diptych: Two Americas in Capitol Hill

Wednesday in Capitol Hill
The sirens wail something is happening,
draw me to my East-facing windows
on Fourth Street as tinted windows
of unmarked trucks and National Guard Humvee
roll by, then agitated messages arrive asking
if I am safe, if I am inside (of course, like all
my neighbors, I am prepared for siege), choppers
wink unseen from above, their arms stir
languid air to a cicada thrum, I find the news
as the first friend calls, tells me they can’t hear
me, you’re breaking up, I can’t hear you, are you –

there in my unquieted corner of Capitol Hill, I pull away
from the windows as sirens race past, as the screen
loops through scenes of mass delusion long scratched
into paranoid minds of catastrophizing prophets,
and how like a video game they look
scaling walls and smashing windows,
and how sinister the silence that creeps toward me
when I see the man in the Capitol rotunda
in his Camp Auschwitz Staff t-shirt,
and I believe every Jew who’s ever told me
we are born ready to flee.

Thursday in Capitol Hill
Birds break the silence of the morning
with their chatter. The sky is clear,
the sun a tonic pouring through
the memory of tear gas haze in the air.
Runners stop at 2nd street and loop back,
unwilling to close the gap to
the biggest crime scene in America.*

A crowd at the Supreme Court wonders
why no one will listen to them.
Fencing blocks foot traffic
from crossing to the Capitol grounds.
Congress is in session,
bleary-eyed staffers pouring coffee
whispering about the 25th amendment.
Journalists press record, put pen to paper,
start the new day.

I kiss my mezuzah when I return home.
I will not take off my Magen David
for any mob.

*line borrowed from ABC News

By Pamela Huber


Pamela Huber lives on Piscataway land in Washington D.C. Her writing has appeared in Furious Gravity, American Literary Magazine, and CommonLit.org.

Leave a Reply