The air smells different here,
the airport looks dressed up, people cold.
I dread the Immigration officer. Eyes
check my passport, my face. He asks
so many questions. My dullness annoys him.
One more scouring look from him,
and I’m through. Everything hurts.
On the other side, the carousel groans.
I look for my suitcases- bought second-hand
in a battered street where an aunt took me-
bargained with the shop owner in a way
only she could, her oily voice beating him down,
then me peeling precious rupees from my wallet.
Suddenly I am glad to be far from all that.
My lumpy luggage appears-
islands carrying the ragged spirit
of home, my history, my geography.
My future, my past wrapped
in the skin of the present-
the bleeding torn skin of the now.
My trapped woman-heart pounds,
my girl-child feet freeze. How do I
force myself out into the thick air
surging behind those glass doors?
I find a porter, learn they are called skycaps.
He is handsome and I feel shy. His giant
hands lift my suitcases as if they were tissue.
He sweeps me towards Customs. I trot
behind him, flustered. My mouth
utters soundless apologies like mantras
to the skycap, the officer, the airport,
my hurtling suitcases, my Bob Dylan cassettes
and the bottle of Bengal mustard
squeezed last minute into my hand bag,
to my hands, to my face, to the air I breathe,
and most of all to my husband
whose face I suddenly can’t remember.