POETRY: Bonnie Wehle – O’Hare, Gate C22

O’Hare, Gate C22

He was sobbing,

swarthy, unshaven,
and wore a fringed scarf loosely wrapped
around his neck.
Perhaps he was leaving home, a loved one,
traveling to a parent’s funeral.

Swarthy, unshaven, fringed scarf around his neck.

He paused opposite me, set down a duffle bag,
rummaged in it, removed an object
covered in brown paper. I immediately thought of a bomb.
Next he took out a prayer rug, unrolled it,
knelt down, touched his head to the rug and prayed.

A fringed scarf around his neck.

Was he asking Allah for courage? Was he
on my flight? Should I
alert security? I was not the only worrier: the woman
next to me had begun to fidget.

Swarthy, unshaven

Still crying audibly, he packed up the object and his rug
headed down the concourse, away from my gate.
No planes were blown up that day and none
were turned back because of a sobbing,
man who wore a scarf around his neck.

 

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