by Kirsten Smith

The sunny spectacle of hello and goodbye
used to rule this place.
Now, the airport gate is empty of emotion;
it’s no longer where an old Jamaican lady
sees her grandkids for the first time
or a couple from Kansas fight off their first parting
with a torrent of French kisses.
Now it’s only ticket holders staring at each other,
waiting for something to happen,
wishing for the days
when the Leavers and the Left Behind
gathered together every hour or so
to make magic.

You think that’s a loss,
but it’s even worse when your plane lands,
when you walk down the jetway and
into the bright white light of another airport gate,
and you are like a baby being born in an empty room.
Your father isn’t there, or your mother, or your friends.
You realize then that no one will ever kiss you
hello at an airport gate again,
or tell you goodbye,
because this is the way the world is now —
you don’t get to see strangers crying or touching
or hugging one another, not anymore,
and you have to walk further
to get to the people you love.

Image: USA. Utah. Salt Lake City airport. 1996. Airports & planes. © Harry Gruyaert/Magnum Photos

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KIRSTEN “KIWI” SMITH is a poet and screenwriter, noted for her raw teen spirit and screenplays for the beloved films LEGALLY BLONDE, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, and THE HOUSE BUNNY. She has had poetry published in THE GETTYSBURG REVIEW, THE SUN and ROOKIE. Her novel in verse The Geography of Girlhood and her YA novel Trinkets debuted to rave reviews. She is currently writing the screenplay for SISTER ACT 3. Follow Kiwi on Twitter.