On the ground by Gate 17, Concourse B,
the giant planes do-si-do, delayed,
as the sky rolls out above the runways,
and a herd of clouds
parades off-stage to the south
like the elephants of another country’s history.
It’s too late on a Sunday night
for travelers all to take the world
personally, faces tight,
pacing and eating, tucking in
the kids by phone, being here, not home.
Working at a kiosk, a bored teen with a nose ring
worries a lock of her hennaed hair
as she sells a huge green mug
to a Packers’ fan bedecked in green,
while his huge green friends nearby
belly themselves up to beers at the bar.
But now she’s reading again
her thumbed copy of Antony and Cleopatra:
maybe there will be a test in the morning,
where’s the battle, who’s the general,
who’s a friend, where’s the lover
lurking in the wings of the paperback.
Or maybe she imagines her real lover
deployed with the Army Rangers in Pakistan.
I only have a partial view, it’s all we ever get,
despite how great the windows are,
how theatrical the curve of the earth,
the arms of the beloved, the lighted sky
minus the moon. The moon would,
of course, finish the scene, signify.
I want her boyfriend to text
that her barge is ready, the sails
trimmed for life together upon any Nile,
let’s go, who cares who knows
we never passed History,
our love besieged by the armies of money.
I am dying, Egypt, dying.
Give me some wine and let me speak a little.
When she lays the book aside
to help another customer,
a bracelet snakes down her wrist.
I’m another customer: I buy
a bottle of water and a pack of gum I’ll never chew,
just to get a glimpse up close
of her movie star eye-liner.