by Rita Dove
I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls.
Here's the rest of Rita Dove's poem.
A couple of days ago, I got a newsletter from the Academy of American Poets entitled, "'I'm just here in my traveler's clothes': Poems for Vacation Travels." I hadn't read any of the poems yet, and when I clicked on this one this morning, I was startled by how appropriate it was for my day yesterday. I flew home from just over three weeks traveling by myself in the United States. Dove describes the nowhere yet everywhere feeling of airports so well in this poem.
Getting home is always a maelstrom of emotions. You'd think I'd be prepared for it, after all these years of back and forth, and I sort of am, but each time it hits me a little differently. I had been up since four AM, and the atmosphere was more oven-like than I had remembered. There were visible signs of the recent riots - frequent piles of the remains of burned tires on the road home, for example. And my house always looks different to me when I'm returning from the States: I see everything through American eyes for a few moments and think in some surprise, "This is where I live? Huh."
I decided to leave the luggage completely alone. I ate a sandwich, took a shower, and went straight to bed. Everything would look better in the morning, I reasoned, and you know what? It does.
Heidi has today's roundup.
2 hours ago
I know what you mean about traveling. I always look forward to returning home, but once I'm there, I have a mix of emotions. I think it is because I spend so much time preparing and anticipating my trip, and then suddenly it's over. Kind of like the holidays. : )
This really is the perfect airport poem. (Along with Billy Collins'!!)
This poem captures the airport scene so well! I love the athlete, poised like a seal, and the contrast between the bachelorette and the exhausted mother and....well, I could go on and on. Traveling is unsettling and shakes up our view of home. That's one reason I think it's so important.
Terrific poem! Molly's comment is well-put, and so is your post.
Having recently spent time in airports this poem is a great find--I love airports because of their e*ualizing effect, the way they take the tossed salad of humanity and melt it down into that pot Rita calls Flight 878, now boarding--which is true even as it's true that nasty segregating events can happen in airports and planes as well. In the airport this time around I was washed over again and again by the beautiful diversity of people and wondered who could--how anyone could--feel more fear than fascination.
Welcome home, Ruth.
So true, airports feel like a no man's land sometimes, one is neither here nor there, with time to just float between the two.
If airports can open our eyes up to new p.o.v. I think that's a good thing–better to bit a bit uncomfortable every once in a while to connect with humanity. Thanks for Rita Dove's view on airports Ruth, glad you are safely home.
I've only flown a handful of times, but I can perfectly relate to the poem, and all the things we see, hear, and experience...thanks for sharing, Ruth!
Ruth, I can share your opinion of the back home feeling after a vacation. You are right: tomorrow takes on a new look into your world. Three weeks away is a long stretch of time. I have never traveled that long.
Great poem. The poet does a excellent job capturing the different facets of the moment. Thanks for sharing.
I love this poem. I’m traveling now so it’s perfect for me. I’m glad you got home and knew you had American eyes. It does require some transition into counting blessings. Welcome home, Ruth
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