Off the plane, down blank corridors,
Absently herded here, then there,
Down these stairs, out this doorway,
Onto this shuttle, strap-hanging
Past interchangeable buildings.
In this terminal door, and now
We’re on our own a weary while
In early-Sunday corridors,
Inhabited by those, like us,
Finding coffee instead of rest.
Then an empty time of waiting:
Nothing to do, nowhere to go,
Pinned by lighting and loudspeaker,
Trapped between waking and sleeping
In the country of the airlines.
He was the little boat’s crew chief,
An old man, seemingly idle
But always observing, always
Seeing that matters ran smoothly.
I got sick on one occasion,
Spent a day lounging on the deck
Waiting for the wells to refill.
All that long day, and afterward,
He asked me if I was better.
Much later I was told that he,
Seeing me asleep in full sun,
Arranged a curtain to give shade.
To those observing him, he said
Only, “It gets very hot here.”
We have been like crows or magpies,
Choosing among shining baubles,
Stashing, or working at stashing,
This fact, this view, this stone, or that,
Wandering through millennia.
But here in this huge museum
Is the ravens’ full treasure trove,
Filled with survivals of the years
(Fragments of forty centuries),
Our own brief scavenging, writ large.