A Song for Departures

Once, it was kinder. Once, there were some compensations.
Once, you’d arrive at the gate
loved ones in tow—which created its own irritations,
but company helped with the wait—
and you’d read them the monitors, chant them the magical list.
Grandparents, camera shots, mugging.
Grinning to look at the couples still groggily blissed.
Boarding call: chaos of hugging—
Nothing like that any more. Love is not listed
online with the carry-on tips.
A churn of the stomach, a gripping of panic resisted.
Only a brush of the lips
and they pull from the curb.  You thump and fumble your stuff
through a gauntlet of frowning mistrust,
airport security hovering, narrow-eyed, gruff.
(Contempt in the look, or disgust?)
Strip like a convict. Off with the belt and the shoes.
Empty the change and the keys.
(Missing here, something you couldn’t imagine you’d lose.)
Walk to the scanner. Freeze:
Go, lugging doubt in your baggage. Step clear of the zone,
pulling yourself together. Leaving, alone.

About the author

Maryann Corbett is the author of five books of poems, most recently In Code. Her work appears in journals on both sides of the…

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Issue 07 · November 2009

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