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February 2013

Airport uh-oh poem

by Brett Foster

There must be something tumor-like
and ticking in the heart that makes me,
just off the jet way in Logan Airport,
darting from the gate and making my way,
react this way when I see the youngish
woman in the waiting room, just beyond
the guard’s cordoned off security line.
Her hand-markered cardboard sign
sits there beside her, thick with longing,
a tested patience to be rewarded soon.
Her body taut and charged with expectancy,
she could swoon any minute, thinking
of his arrival pending, that moment
unending in the memory about to be made
when he sees the sign she’s made for him:
And I think how fickle or otherwise
unworthy he may be, how he may be
surprised by this, but not really in a good way,
how her enthusiasm just leaves me
fearful for her. You always choose
the enthusiasm you can live with,
obviously, but this feels troubling,
as if she had dropped an egg-shell hope
into this guy’s clumsy, unproven hands,
and thinking about it washes me up
on a pessimist’s island: “They’re doomed.”


Brett Foster’s first book of poems is The Garbage Eater (Northwestern University Press).

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 February 2013, on page 29

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