Layover

 

airport
Spending the night in an airport
with 8 hours to kill,
hundreds of Krona we can’t spend
and bags under our eyes.

The blue budget-airline signs are dull.
A lonely, morose smalt and
the crowd control barriers rest,
awaiting the crowd the morning brings.

We make camp
staking claim with
towered cases,
lumpy rain-coat mattresses
and a guarded silence.

Ripples of Spanish flow from over yonder,
drifting with a resigned slowness,
immune to the glares of jet-lagged Russians
and the throaty laughs of the French.
A single Italian lady,
a journalist perhaps
or a student,
sits perched and alert,
tendrils of steam spiralling up
in the ghostly half-light
of her MacBook.

I spot maybe nine different countries
by their dress, accent, manner.
I smile that we’re all sharing the same room.

Except that we aren’t.

We’re all stuck in this place,
waiting for the same planes
to take us East,
or West or Home.
Clutching our passports
with a desperate fervour
as if we might lose ourselves,
or our heading,
should it slip from our sight.

We represent the four corners of the world.
Bursting with stories
and exotic names,
card games and drinking songs.
Each of us an untapped source
clean and fresh,
of life and love and
laughter and tears.

And yet here we sit,
our silence a wall.

I pull out a hackey-sack
from my bag
and ask a girl to throw with me.

Her name is Erika.
She’s Swedish.

Soon we’re 3, then 5
and now a dozen
suddenly bonding
and spilling our marvellous stories
like a freshly pierced cask.

We’re finally asked, politely,
to “please stop”
and so we sit together
and the murky blues
are sapphires.

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