44 - destined to witness

we start before dawn.

ghostly in the gloaming, and cold with nerves and 21 degrees

we pacify our ears, our toes, our bladders - this is not their day. the word of the day (clever doctor dictionary) is pandiculation: it means an instinctive stretching, as on awakening or while yawning. as we do, so does the nation: we awake.

the metro has a feel of expectation.

you and i and hope at l'enfant plaza

and thousands of our newest closest friends

we masses huddle, yearning to breathe free.

snaking up the subway steps i get a sense of how we are unbroken: we the people, on today of all days, stretching in a sense to all eternity, and seeking absolution in the end.

we are governed only loosely

and commerce is as healthy as the cold.

this is a way to prove our witness tangibly

bearing its trappings with us on our sea.

we move forward.

as we shuffle in our thousands,

arches rise above us, high

and all we are is motion

(and sartorial distinction - what a hat! it is the day's first fanciful chapeau, but not the last)

as these two float away i fidget

fretfully, aware of the sea turtles that await their final resting place, but

we are moving, washington is with us

we are found.

we are not dignified or elevated, raised on high or particularly near our reason for this hajj of ours today

we are here to notarize: we came. we saw.

washington, even more than lincoln, haunts my mind like one more ponytailed ghost

in the country that he helped to build, in winter

we are not upon the delaware, but we face a moment no less striking for the lack of blood we shed.


and disbelieving


and massed

and tired

we are many.

i begin to lose feeling in my toes and go searching for a warming tent.

i find very little that is useful to me, but these soldiers camp in packs, leaving their bags in slowly proliferating huddles, circling the camouflage wagons, seeking the lea of the storm.

i travel onwards.

chris matthews and keith olbermann are not as impressive as you might think in real life, and if it is a case of "real" america versus unreal, i am inclined to believe in the veracity of my fellow sufferers of cold and cramping, waving flags and hoping against hope.

still, few find themselves impassive on this day.

my savior is a soldier after all (thank you, lieutenant harris - from all ten of my still-wiggling toes)

and i return in time to start to see.

as we pray

or document

and pose

(and freeze)

it begins to become point of fact that the man whose vote we rocked is drawing nearer. he is saying thank you. he is rising.

but on the mall this morning, barack obama is in some ways beside the point.

this twelve year old boy (who moments later took a break from his call to cheer the entry of sasha and malia obama with the fervent joy of one deep in the throes of first love from afar)

and this cool-hand luke-ette

are as much a part of this inaugural as The One.

he is here

but so are we

and while his duties are many, ours are:

- to be moved
- to understand
- to see.

(occasionally we think we are seeing with more stealth than point of fact will dictate)

we see mistakes

and we see grace

and we see that in some cases it stops mattering

we see change.

all of us are here to bear this witness

as if our seeing makes this real

and the fact that this is here to see

in a way makes our reality more complex and more honest and more true.

we are all lifted up

and held safe, for this moment.

ordinary details make me cry

everything makes me cry

but in my weeping, here of all places: i am not alone.

we are on the move again, where ambulances ask us "mother, may i?" (we say: yes you can.)

taking the exit onto 395 is surreal

for what should be dangerous is safe for us; we cannot be injured or stopped

in our masses, borne aloft - even as we enter underground -

by hope

and pepsicola.

in a way the event is ending and the show is over

but everything is different now, in ways i still don't grasp or play at understanding

we are moving

we are moving

we are moving

we have moved a mountain.