Monthly Archives: May 2013





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. Soon we shall

be summoned to the gate, soon enough

there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers

and perforated stubs—but for now

I can look at these ragtag nuclear families

with their cooing and bickering

or the heeled bachelorette trying

to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s

exhausted mother waiting to be called up early

while the athlete, one monstrous hand

asleep on his duffel bag, listens,

perched like a seal trained for the plunge.

Even the lone executive

who has wandered this far into summer

with his lasered itinerary, briefcase

knocking his knees—even he

has worked for the pleasure of bearing

no more than a scrap of himself

into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,

they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning

—a little hope, a little whimsy

before the loudspeaker blurts

and we leap up to become

Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.









Vacation (Response to Rita Dove)

by Helen Hanyu Liu


I love that impatient waiting,

That endless shifting, endless

Sense of time spread so smoothly like

Lavish peanut butter. However

Soon illusions will fade, soon enough

We will wobble forward to board the plane like penguins

And inch forward like mud – but for now

I can survey around at these clusters of people

With magazine-shielded glances

And see restless children jitter around

To try and make up for their agitation

As their exhausted mom with dark eye circles calms them

While the old man, with distant gazes

at the sea of energy, recalls,

coming home maybe one last time.

Even the fashionable teen

Who just plunged into summer vacation

With ear buds blasting summer top hits, backpack

Void of homework – even she

Seems to bubble with full excitement

Of unconscious levitated

Burdens of school. She’ll stay up, she’ll sleep late,

She’ll let all the stress drain out of her in one day

– a little laugh, a little careless

before the numbers are called

and we unite to become

Flight 282, now boarding at Gate 17.