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Rites of Spring in the Nation's Capitol

By Marion E. Mccollom

After a day of watching three-piece suited Harvard students talk to similarly-suited Senators, it is a relief ?? lie in the grass at night and look up at the Washington Monument. You can feel the dead tension of moderate politics dissolve into the night air.

Allen Ginsberg exorcises spirits from the White House in a monotone drone and the ground is cool and damp. The grass eases up under your neck and he tweet? your toes. And Judy Collins sings "To every thing there is a season, turn, turn" And you wonder about tomorrow.

Then you're on your feet with a crumpled ??let in your raised hand and you look around and there are maybe a thousand people beside you and around you. You ??hs the loaflet, and stand sil??ly, watching the field of flickering lights and ???hed fists, feeling the mass. And you knew the time for mass demonstrations in Washington is over, but it still feels good.

The sun comes up in Chevy Chase, and the air is heavy it is spring and busbes bloom under the window. but the morning things with adhesive melancholy. You read from Alan Paton's Too Late the Phalarope about.


The call of the piet-my-vrou acress the kloof, a sound long remembered from the days of im??eace before the world's corruption, which could open the door of the soul flooding it with a sudden knowledge of the sadness and ??or and beauty of man's home and the earth."

You read the morning papers and know that the days of innocence are over. The President is insane, the Congress is apathetic. people are dying, the world is inevitably screwed up. But the sun outside says "maybe" and you go.

You see people, tens of thousands of people freaks, clean-cuts, old women-lolling in the shade soaking up the rhetorie. A swathe of Federal Employees on strike cuts through the crowd and you clench your fist and cheer. Everyone cheers, Again, you think "maybe"

And you wander, tired of the talk, across the green before the Monument to the reflecting pools. People have gathered and you can hear "Fuck Richard Nixon" echoing back toward the White House. Over the spray of the fountain you see teeshirts and blue jeans sailing into the air. The Yippie cheer explodes and everyone terrorizes the pool, ripping the water in sheets and throwing it to the sky. You push through the crowd, kick off your shoes and join them.

In the center of the pool, someone is beating on a tin can, and everyone links arms and dances in a circle. A boy hoists a naked girl to his shoulders and everyone cheers, watching her bob up and down. An older man wearing a jock strap wades serenely by.

You are cold and you move to the side, passing a couple making love in the thigh-deep water. And as you stand in the sun drying your hair you watch the scene, thinking Lord of the Flies and Paradise at the same time.

And then you see the revolution. There are maybe three thousand people standing around, it is the middle of a city, and people are cavorting nude in the fountain. There is none of the fear of strangers you read about in Soe Rel. none of the avoidance of mistrust, none of the threat of a crowd. People are together. And the "maybe" in your mind turns into a partial "yes,"

Watching the news on TV, you harden again, backed against the futile wall of Washington politics. You see the impotence of the demonstrators, letting the air out of the bus fires because they can't break through the barricades to get to the politicians.

You want to see violence, but you know it won't prove anything. You want to believe in the simpering "Give Peace a Chance" doctrine of the New Mobe marshals, but you know that their peace has seen its last chance. You want to think that something political will work, but you know that nothing will.

Driving home, you watch six a.m. break through the fog in Connecticut. The sun comes up flaming red-orange, burning the mist from the tops of the trees. And you think again of the fertility of the seen at the fountain, the richness of people getting themselves back to the garden. The weight of politics and politicians falls away for a moment, and the "maybe" sounds again.

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