Meeting at an Airport

You asked me once,
on our way back
from the midmorning
trip to the spring:
“What do you hate,
and who do you love?”
 
And I answered,
from behind the eyelashes
of my surprise,
my blood rushing
like the shadow
cast by a cloud of starlings:
“I hate departure . . .
I love the spring
and the path to the spring,
and I worship the middle
hours of morning.”
And you laughed . . .
and the almond tree blossomed
and the thicket grew loud with nightingales.
 
. . . A question
now four decades old:
I salute that question’s answer;
and an answer
as old as your departure;
I salute that answer’s question . . .
 
And today,
it’s preposterous,
here we are at a friendly airport
by the slimmest of chances,
and we meet.
Ah, Lord!
we meet.
And here you are
asking—again,
it’s absolutely preposterous—
I recognized you
but you didn’t recognize me.
“Is it you?!”
But you wouldn’t believe it.
And suddenly
you burst out and asked:
“If you’re really you,
What do you hate
and who do you love?!”
 
And I answered—
my blood
fleeing the hall,
rushing in me
like the shadow
cast by a cloud of starlings:
“I hate departure,
and I love the spring,
and the path to the spring,
and I worship the middle
hours of morning.”
 
And you wept,
and flowers bowed their heads,
and doves in the silk of their sorrow stumbled.


Taha Muhammah Ali, “Meeting at an Airport” from So What. Copyright © 2006 by Taha Muhammah Ali. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: So What (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)
More Poems by Taha Muhammad Ali