Gate C22 | A Poem by Ellen Bass

Gate C22 | A Poem by Ellen Bass

This poem by Ellen Bass is just delightful and irresistible!

At Gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like she’d just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island, 
like she’d been released from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.
 
Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching —
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn’t look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.
 
But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after — if she beat you or left you or
you’re lonely now — you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman’s middle-
     aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

~Ellen Bass

The language and the rhythm captivate me and I hungrily read each line.

This piece comes from her volume Mules of Love. Think of literary warm mint green tea with honey. Or Jasmine tea. Comforting, warm, beautiful for the senses.

One after the other, hungry as she is for the words and those kisses. I catch a couple of themes in this poem.  To abandon my concern for how other people view me and to be “me” how I feel I need to be, utterly and completely unselfconscious. To follow my heart to love, deliberately overlooking what I may have previously deemed to be acceptable in appearance and presentation of the vessel bearing the “love.”

Have you ever noticed…. that the word “kiss” actually sounds exactly like a kiss? And I enjoy being staggeringly smitten with someone, someone who can kiss (me) and kiss (me) and kiss (me).  Someone who looks at me with the glory of catching sight of the first sunrise. After all, isn’t this what so many of us want, and seek, and push through the discouragements and heart let downs?

Aah, for the warmth and the light that comes with the break of the sun.

Gate C22 | A Poem by Ellen Bass

To look at the potential for love with a different perspective, to dare to see something, someone from a different angle.

Using a prism to capture the image in a different bend of reality altogether…..

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