On Being Asked If I'd Ever Been to Georgia
BY CHARLES RAFFERTY
I had a fifteen-minute layover in Atlanta,
headed from one place full of desire
to another bereft of all. I remember the lights
of the city as we banked above it—
a vast and toppled Christmas tree
no one had bothered to right.
Later, I chuffed through the wide hallways—
refusing the smiles of the greeters,
demanding the path to the place my ticket
insisted that I be. There wasn't even time
for a drink before I got in the line
and left. Sometimes, I wonder
about that Georgia dirt I never walked on.
For all I know it is made of watch cogs
and glitter. I have only the mulch of the airport
planters, which dotted my route
through the artificial air of a terminal
that shunted me back into sky.
On the plane, I was shown the escape routes,
and the lights of the world became small
and untouchable once again. Up ahead,
the stewardess and her cart of little whiskeys
came closer row by row.
Charles Rafferty's poems have appeared in The New Yorker and The Southern Review, and his stories have appeared in The Sonora Review and The Cortland Review. His most recent chapbook of poems is Appetites (Clemson University Press). Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College.