Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good-Bye and Good Luck! Let's Write Abecedarians as We Travel!

So, this week offers the kind of weather that must leave many of us asking, "Why does the AWP so often meet in February in cold, northern cities?"

To which several years ago, you might have responded, "But D.C. is essentially a Southern city." And until recently, whole winters in the D.C. region could go by without so much as a flurry. Lately, it's a different story. A year ago, I was scheduled to go to D.C. to help my mom lead a one day retreat for her women's group. Jet Blue cancelled the flight a few days ahead of the event that many came to call Snowpocalypse or Snowmageddon.

I fear we're in for another event of similar proportion, although it may skirt the D.C. region.

I assume that the AWP never comes to warm, sunny cities in February because it's frighteningly expensive. So, I will leave our temps of the high 70's and take my luck with the nation's travel system tomorrow.

It reminds me of a poem I wrote after a particularly ghastly summer experience trying to travel through the Atlanta airport (or was it Dallas?) after a nasty string of thunderstorms came through. This poem doesn't seem as appropriate for winter travel to a conference (the poem has a speaker who tries to get to her lover). Still, it's the best that I have on the subject.

Should you find yourself stranded, delayed, or marooned, turn your mind to abecedarians, that form that most of us can master. Write the alphabet down the right side of your page and let your brain go to work. Want a real challenge? Play with the left margin too!

Here's hoping for safe travels for everyone. I'm hoping to see you and perhaps meet you in D.C.!

This poem first appeared in Hurricane Review in 2005, and it was one of the first poems I put on this blog, way back in Dec. of 2008. If you're one of the two people who read the original post, I apologize for the repetition!

Traveler’s ABCs

All day I dream of you, as I’m stuck in this airplane,
Baggage above me,
Corpse of a happy vacation chained to my calf,
Drugged by the sudden stop of motion midstream,
Egged on by the airlines in my
Fervent wish to see you one more time.
Gasping for air, I awake to coffee-stained light and a
Hole rubbed in my sock from yesterday’s restless pacing.
Island of bliss in my travel nightmares, this dream of your fingers.
Jammed in between two corpulent beasts, but I don’t care.
Kind stewardesses offer me a cloth for my face and a cup of
Lemon tea as I watch thunderstorms recede to
Menace another town, wreck another’s vacation.
Nervously, the plane trundles down the tarmac.
Opiate of travelers everywhere, movement towards take-off!
Point of no return, this rush and hurling skyward,
Queues left behind on the
Runway, the security lines, the endless waiting and
Showing of picture IDs; air
Transportation requires so much more patience, so little room for
Upset and missed connections—some blame the recent
Violence but what did we expect?
We challenge the gods of the clouds every time we prove ourselves to be
Xerophytes, plants blooming in the least likely places,
Yoking ourselves in thin metal tubes and crossing three time
Zones, just to spend one night beside you.

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