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Mary Quade | Tarmac Ceremony, Cleveland Hopkins Airport

By Mary Quade
Tarmac Ceremony, Cleveland Hopkins Airport

My second landing of the day, placid and without
thought of gravity, this passing from
falling to fallen,

but at the gate the captain

asks us to remain seated, while a man
in dress blues, officers’ insignia
rises from among us to the aisle,
a detail approaching sharp focus.
We applaud, busily helpless. We know
somehow what we carry then, and wait
for our relief.

Outside our plane,

pairs of white gloves hushed against pressed slacks,
hearse at the cargo door. Inside, below us,
with the baggage, our officer
arranges flag on casket, sets
into motion both welcome
and farewell.

When I packed my suitcase,

I thought only of home. I’m sorry
if sometimes, though I’ve arrived,
I fail to return, a delay, a lag.

Now

we file to the gate, where some stay, watch
the body descend into proper hands, and some
hurry away, afraid to miss something, someone,
somewhere else. A woman sitting by the window
lifts her hand to her brow — a salute,
it seems, but she’s simply seeing
her own reflection, just
shielding her eyes from the sun.

Date of publication: 
September 7, 2013

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Quade grew up in Wisconsin, attended college in Chicago, and for the past eleven years has lived on what was once a dairy farm in rural northeast Ohio, four miles south of Lake Erie. She is the author of Guide to Native Beasts (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) and teaches creative writing at Hiram College.