Penelope at the Airport

(for Darren)

I forgot to write down the gate number. Again.
I tell the ticket agent that I know where you’re coming from.
She says that’s a good thing in a relationship, and names
Three airlines, all planes due in the next half hour. I run.

The clerk won’t tell me if you’re on this plane.
I sit in a plastic chair molded for a 12-year-old boy.
The one-eyed janitor pushing a bleach-smelling mop
Gives me a shrug: What can you do?
“A good man, you should move a mountain for.”
His daddy had this job before him, he says,
And taps his patch. “He was blind in the other eye.”
The plane spills people into the terminal.
Not one of them is you. I run.

I’m the captive audience she’s waited her whole life for.
“Them damn island people, they’re all over the place these days.”
She presses a yogurt-dripping Greek sandwich into my hands.
This isn’t your flight, either. I run.

It’s a patriotic world. No one will tell me if you’re on this plane, either.
“Men are pigs,” the woman sitting next to me says. I don’t know
If she’s talking to me. I offer her the sandwich, but she just keeps on
Babbling until the plane lands, then wanders off, still raving.
I see you. I run.

I fly into your arms like some kind of bird.
“So here you are, duck.” The flight was delayed
Ten minutes. You ask if I’ve been waiting long,
And where on earth the sandwich came from.
I toss it in an orange trash bin just in case
Windbag is catching, and steal a scruffy kiss.
Tonight I’ll dream of coming unraveled in your hands.


It actually was being lost in an airport trying to meet Darren’s plane that set this off. I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten so many mythological references into one poem, before or since. Even the duck is one.


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