14 June 2012

histories {a poem}

This airport hotel in Philadelphia is a place set apart—

so near history on a grand scale
that declaration of independence that tried to knock the crown off the king
that shout of freedom written large not 10 miles from here
in the second story of a brick building
where the men sweated under their wigs
from the oppressive heat and of course,
from England’s oppression.
History is so near
but I’m in this concrete block
this vacuum-sealed room to keep the jet fumes out
this airport hotel, an uncomfortable mix of
almost-there and nowhere.

On the runways, planes come and go,
carrying tourists off to see Michelangelo.

I make up histories for their adventures:
The United flight has a man off to visit his blue-haired grandma in Owen Sound, Ontario, and he thinks it might be the last time. One more time, he wants to hear about how she fished the Georgian Bay when she was just a little girl: the cold water, the smell of the fish, the sunrise. All these moments will be lost soon.

The American flight has a woman off to her college roommate’s wedding in Kansas City—she’s seeing a girl who used to know everything about her, including that she snores lightly, but who now feels as distant and formal as the calligraphy on the wedding invitation. She didn’t even get to bring a guest, and so she’s alone on this flight, thinking about how she decided to RSVP yes because she didn’t want to miss out. Fifteen years after freshman year and she’s still worried about the in-crowd.
There are histories all around,
out of every window and
on every runway and
in every building

as we all live in this astounding mix of
almost-there and everywhere.

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