Vacation

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.
 
Reprinted from On the Wing, published by the University of Iowa Press.

Poems by This Author

Adolescence II by Rita Dove
Although it is night, I sit in the bathroom, waiting.
Borderline Mambo by Rita Dove
As if the lid stayed put on the marmalade.
from Crossing State Lines [Shirtsleeved afternoons] by Rita Dove
Shirtsleeved afternoons
Ludwig Van Beethoven's Return to Vienna by Rita Dove
Three miles from my adopted city
Reunion 2005 by Rita Dove
The Bistro Styx by Rita Dove
She was thinner, with a mannered gauntness
The Spring Cricket Considers the Question of Negritude by Rita Dove
Under the Viaduct, 1932 by Rita Dove
Weathering Out by Rita Dove
She liked mornings the best—Thomas gone


Further Reading

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A Boy and His Dad
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Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
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August
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Back Yard
by Carl Sandburg
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by Robert Louis Stevenson
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by John Ashbery
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Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
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June Light
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Let Birds
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Long Island Sound
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Summer
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