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At the airport terminal the coarse sound
of wheeled suitcases, a toddler giggling,
running a few feet beyond his father.
A brown-haired woman at the kiosk
that sells last-minute magazines and candy.
I try not to gawk, but she looks like my mother.
I pull my own wheeled carry-on to Security,
lift it onto the conveyer belt, walk into the booth
and hold my hands above my head.
I am always going and going.
The way my mother did.
After she packed both our suitcases,
I’d sit on the stool in the master bathroom,
while my mother brushed my hair.
I’d stare into the mirror at our two faces
so much alike they could have been
a portrait: The Before and the After.
She’s been dead almost 50 years,
and I keep going and going.
From 35,000 feet I look down
at the clouds, the blue sky above so vital
before it blackens.
Then there it is again: just a hint
of her face in the airplane window
gazing back at me.
Copyright 2018 Andrea Hollander
Andrea Hollander moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011, after many years in the Arkansas Ozarks, where she ran a bed & breakfast for 15 years and served as the Writer-in-Residence at Lyon College for 22. Hollander’s 5th full-length poetry collection, Blue Mistaken for Sky, is due from Autumn House Press in September 2018. Her 4th was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; her 1st won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Hollander’s many other honors include the Vern Rutsala Award, an Oregon Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and two fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts.