The old lady’s enormous plastic eyeglasses,
high on her aquiline nose,
reflect blue-white light of Arrival monitors.
She clutches her substantial vinyl pocketbook tightly
under her left arm,
clinches a creased plane ticket with her right hand.
Her lips work with the effort of reading
the long list of flights. When she reaches the end,
she frowns, looks at the monitors again,
then edges to the ones marked Departures.
Behind her, in the B21 boarding lounge,
a brown and gray sparrow flies toward
a window, seeking a route to the outdoors.
The bird, up against the glass, sits a moment
on the aluminum window ledge, then flits away.
The old lady hitches up her purse,
its outside pockets bulging a crossword puzzle book
and last week’s checkout stand tabloids.
She looks at the monitors
at her ticket
at the monitors.
Noticing her lengthy stay
an airline employee comes to help,
scanning screens briskly
announcing Gate A2.
Meanwhile at B21
the bird wheels in again
to make another attempt at liberation.
The old lady’s face collapses
at the comprehension that she’s not even in the correct terminal.
Her rescuer unclips a two-way radio
and DO YOU COPY? crackles across the lounge.
He then helps her sit down,
facing the concourse, to wait for the transportation cart.
The old lady, perched on the plastic upholstery, twirls her wedding band,
already worn as thin as gold leaf.
The furry ruff of her threadbare gray coat rides up
and uneven ends of her sparse steely hair poke into it.
The bird looks toward the tantalizing outdoors
where catering trucks and luggage trolleys swarm purposefully,
hops a few feet down the ledge, stops, looks again,
then loops away toward the sports bar,
which is blaring Super Bowl pre-game shows.
The old lady looks jerkily up and down the concourse until
the cart arrives. The driver double checks
ticket, departure gate, then settles her
into the backward-facing passenger seat.
Still hugging her pocketbook
a hint of calm at last settles on her face
as the cart driver executes a swift
turn and heads toward the correct terminal.
The bird returns again,
flying at top speed straight into the glass.