Riders on these D.C. Streets

Riders on these D.C. Streets


The RFK Stadium was the destination.
¿Hablas español?
He asked
Yo hablo español muy poquito.
I replied
“Oh my English no good too my friend”

A quiet ride, I assumed.

I pulled my phone out, to tune out the world around.
And placed headphones on my head so I can drown out sounds
But to my dismay the display of a dying battery was found
Crushing my hopes of enjoying this ride to my own soundtrack.
In my own little bubble.

I was forced to sit in my thoughts.

I admit, I was worried whether he could distinguish
How to navigate these barbaric beat D.C. streets, something foreign
Like United Nations making deliberations lost in translation

Was he from D.C.? How long has he been driving?

It didn’t matter if he was Caucasian, or Haitian,
Japanese, German, Croatian
Truth is our stories have now crossed paths
Without an interlingual rendition of our narration

Is this an issue?

Or am I overreacting, assuming, alluding
That drivers whose english is “no good” should not be commuting
People from place to place, it’s too confusing to be doing

Is this really an issue?

Or am I being judgmental
Am I the overseer of this war raged between thoughts in my head
What if
A tire popped, at a red light stop
In Gallery Place, on 7th & H
The GPS, signals digress
And every turn became a guess
He whirls and twirls
To miss the squirrel hurled into the streets
And accidentally bumps a tree
What if
All of these chapters of scenarios needed translation?
Or were these just a fictional figment of my imagination?

The car was stopped.
I soon realized that,
We were parked at my destination
For two minutes flat

He actually shed about five minutes of time
I would have noticed if my worries had not covered me blind
I became the antagonist of our two stories intertwined
Questioning the plot and resolution the driver designed

Why was I fixated on translations and the worst that could be
When the driver should know these D.C. streets better than me?
Nothing foreign
Like United Nations making deliberations lost in translation
It didn’t matter if he was Caucasian, or East Asian,
Japanese, German, Jamaican

Truth is, I would have never questioned
If I had my bubble. If I was content with being comfortable.
If I could have drowned out the world around
But this is America. This is D.C.
And we are all a big melting pot of narratives
Trying to get to our destinations
And sometimes that bubble gets popped
Leaving us gasping for air in our realities
Transforming what was once mainstream fiction
Into autobiographies

What if
I didn’t assume an issue based on my own preconceived notions
What if
I didn’t allow my thought off the deep end of the ocean

As I grabbed my stuff and proceeded to get out
He turned to me and said “Go D.C. United!”
I responded “Go Eagles!”
No translation needed.

Charity Blackwell is a spoken word artist, host, emcee, and poetry specialist who has spent several years contributing to the arts scene at DC SCORES. She graduated from Trinity University, where she played soccer.