Morning Poem

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Poetry

Airplane at terminal in the morning

I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me…
-Frank O’Hara, “Personal Poem”

I wake up in the airport hotel in Vienna
and brush my teeth and when I put my toothbrush
down the bristles skim the edge of the sink
and I think of Cici in Minnesota
and how she hates that. I press and zip my suitcase
shut and the socks Verona from Kosovo gave me catch
in the metal pull and I picture her smile
from when we went to the DC zoo
and she saw elephants for the first time.
I look to the TV and listen to the anchor talk
about Ukraine, the latest shelling, and I think of Alex
then, the man in Kyiv who painted me thirteen matryoshkas,
asked if I wanted each with brown or blond hair,
carrying pears or cherries or plums?
I stand and put my empty water bottle in my purse
to fill later, and I remember the janitor from London
who hours ago scolded me when I threw trash
into the wrong bin. He raised his hands and I raised
mine and said, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! And I was.
They’re talking about the football player now,
the one who collapsed on the field, and I again
imagine my ex up north—who never misses a game—
and the pain that must have spread across
his face. I hope his new wife or mom or our old dog
moved closer. I think of my own mother next,
but I am always thinking of my own mother.
I pull on the boots I got in Germany and remember
the saleswoman who held my heel in her hand
and said I had beautiful eyes. Schöne, schöne.
I gather my bags and slide a few euros on the desk
for the maid I’ll never meet—but might imagine me?
I step back and glance to the window.
How strange it is that every moment
is both present and a portal. How silly it is to say:
This world is so big! Our minds are so big.
The sun is only beginning to rise
above the planes outside.

Photo by Ravi Shah, used and adapted under CC.

About The Author


Lina Patton received her MFA in Fiction from George Mason University. Her work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Driftwood Press, The Rupture, ELLE, The Cut, and others. She currently lives in Pristina, Kosovo and is at work on a novel.