Line Items

I didn’t plan to check my bag
but by the time I reached the gate
and waited for boarding to begin
first priority and then first class
then zone two and three and four
by the time I dug out my ticket
from my backpack, held my passport
between my forefinger and thumb
my carryon gripped as firmly
as a child at my side, by the time
the attended greeted me with a smile
and scanned my ticket
there was no more overhead space
on the plane today, their apologies
for the inconvenience
would you please step this way
for a moment while we print the label
and weave it in and around the handle
and hand you your receipt
please take your seat, your luggage
will be waiting for you
at your final destination
it will be waiting, like you are waiting
to board the plane
to take off, to land, to taxi and unload
to walk along that long hallway to customs
and stand in that long line
between a mother and her crying children
between an elderly man who smells
of cheap cigars, his breath like alcohol
and not the rich kind either, between
teenage girls on cell phones
and boys staring at large breasts
waiting for the man in uniform
to stamp your entry and nod to you
go on, proceed through security
past duty-free gift shops and restrooms
finally to baggage claim, conveyor belts
long since turned cold, your bags
sprawled out and waiting, waiting
as you were to leave, to say hello
to be whole once again.

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