Gate C22 a poem by Ellen Bass


Gate C22

At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he’d just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she’d been released at last from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching–
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn’t look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after–if she beat you or left you or
you’re lonely now–you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman’s middle-aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

Ellen Bass




  1. Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    That is one of my very favorite Bass poems.

  2. Celenia
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    More!! I love Ellen Bass too. This poem knocks it out of the park for me. And I love the sound of your voice, so yes, please keep recording and sharing!

  3. Dee Cummins
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Love it!

  4. Julia
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I loved this!!! The poem blew me away. Your reading was most excellent. I have not heard of her before.
    I can just imagine them.
    Longing for what they shared.
    Thank you so much for sharing :-)

  5. Kaitlin
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    It is magical to be read these poems and to have them alive in my soul every day…what a lovely new dimension you are adding to your blog by sharing them and what a wonderful spirit rises from them in the circle of our sharing. Thank you!

  6. Posted July 19, 2014 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    I LOVE this new practice of yours. Please keep going as long as you feel it serves you. <3

  7. Charlotte A Pragnell
    Posted July 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    LOVE ! Your voice brings out the spirit of this poem.

  8. Michelle
    Posted July 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Love, no, ÜBER-love hearing your voice Andrea! This poem is absolutely magical, and it gives hope to those of us who are longing to find our own man in the brimmed hat who will gaze upon us someday, with longing and love and sheer beauty reflected in his eyes. So amazing, and thank you for sharing your gorgeous voice to put the poem into words…emphasis where I wouldn’t have placed it made it even more delicious to re-read!

  9. isavoyage
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful poem!

  10. Posted July 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Great poem. And your voice, your beautiful voice. Thanks for this new way of sharing yourself with us. I am enjoying these voice messages. I too would love to hear more poems, more of your stories and questions and revelations of yourself.

    Peace be with you, my dear friend. Deep peace.

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