travelogue: Lincoln, NE

When I leave, the sky is still its deepest blue. Half moon suspended. Gray highway nearly empty. I drive south and a deep mist hovers.

Silhouettes of trees: Backlit, skeletal.

As I pass through the security line, the agent approaches. “I am just going to pat down your leg,” and I wonder what the sensors might have detected on the back of my left thigh, on the few inches of flesh in brown tights.

At the gate, I unintentionally position myself facing the entry to the café and there, become a kind of unofficial and dour greeter.

I watch as a man fumbles with his wallet, then drops it. A couple bickers over the price of coffee. I am given an occasional half-smile. A nod. This hour of morning feels illicit.

I finish my coffee and make my way to a molded plastic chair by the window. From here, the pavement outside is endless and gray. I imagine it to be the sea, the vast, glassy center of it. No wind. Indistinguishable from sky.

Hours pass. I drift in and out of sleep. There is cool air blowing on my head. The man seated next to me zips his sweatshirt, pulls up his hood and slumps against the window. The woman behind me is humming to herself.

Dream in three parts:

(1) At the airport, you are waiting. “You are so late,” you say. “Too late.” I hand you the small bag I have been carrying. Inside, a white bird, hardly bigger than a stone. “This changes nothing,” you say, as you take my hand. But I know this is not true.

(2) We are sitting around a long table. The table is covered in white plastic. You are cutting shapes from colored tissue paper. Pink and blue and orange. You survey the table. Paper shapes fluttering. You take one, place it on your tongue. Then swallow. Then you say: “Now you.”

(3) The distance is the distance and the tug of daily living is what it will ever be. I cannot lie and say I do not wish it different at times; do not, at times, wish it anything other than what it is.

When I arrive in Lincoln, the air is warm and sweet. Cloudless sky.

And now, nightfall.

And now, the quiet settling in.

And now, silence.