Somewhere Over Pennsylvania
Sitting under her spotlight beam,
the old lady brings out her cellophane bag
for the fifth time this trip.
She lowers her seat tray taking me
hostage and pulls out her stash.
One by one, she turns snapshots
face up like a casino dealer:
a child riding a tricycle, another
blowing out two candles on a cake,
the third wearing a mask
of spaghetti. She traces
her finger over each like Braille,
then studies a ragged piece of paper,
writing printed in a palsied hand.
They will come, she knows, her daughter
and cold-fish son-in-law to meet her
at the gate with their uncertain
smiles and children. But it never hurts
to have the address, a phone number,
some change handy. After all,
you never know. Far below
the plastic window fogged,
from my cheek, each single farm house
cold and alone as a star struggles
to pull town-light into its orbit.
Coffee, black and oily enough
to lube a tractor sits on a stove,
while porch lights remain on long after
everyone is in for the night for anyone
who might drive down the road
for a visit. After all, you never know.