By 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.
It was a rainy morning again. Adam had lunch plans downtown with a friend from college, so he took the Metro to meet him. Daniel did laundry and worked on his costume for MagFest. We had thought we might go to the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade in the afternoon, but it closed at 4 p.m. and there was an accident making the Beltway very slow by the time we retrieved Adam. So instead we went to Lake Needwood, which has paved paths through the woods (and although it had finally stopped raining, it was still pretty muddy in Rock Creek Park).
We made a stop at Kohl's so I could pick something up bought online in the big December sale and got to see a gorgeous sunset in Gaithersburg. Then we headed to the Mormon Temple in Kensington, which has a festival of lights outdoors and creches from around the world inside the visitor center (the actual temple is under renovation and non-LDS aren't allowed inside). We missed the Gay Men's Chorus of DC in the indoor theater, but we got to see the life-size nativity recreation. Then we came home for a late dinner and watched Men in Black: International, which our kids had not seen.