The coffee’s shit, and the company greasy,
but the sun dazzles the bookshop,
our forty-eight-hour deodorizers failing,
the blank security barriers
with their bludgeons, uniforms and lunch bags.
Two decades back, we’d all be smoking.
But now, sunsets play out behind clean glass, one-hour WiFi,
all our novels thrust into designer carry-ons,
and the merciful phones-off runway rules,
so our bodies end where the gates begin,
each fuselage hosting
a complex grand-staff of silence.
In two hours, you’ll be in Kabul Korea Connecticut;
last calls, stand-bys, a sloppy seatmate’s missed
connections, the sure slope of the plane
down the grey ramp
past newspapers and perky pleasantries,
until they seal behind you
every step you might have taken
with every flight illuminated on the grand, black board.
Were there similar ascents
when the ocean meant gales and doldrums,
the docks that knew the seas’ names
dreaming New York against dirty, concrete channels?
Buckle up. Leaf through the creased magazine.
Here’s the captain’s creed.
Your shoulder against the window, an inch from stratosphere.
The green earth down there will soon be mooring thunder.
From Old Hat (Nightwood, 2014) by Rob Winger.