I silently raise my arms
letting her run the metal detector
up my legs
against my back
her mouth taut, tingling.
I remove my shoes, belt, ring
I hand over my phone.
I even laugh with the men at Customs
as they unzip my luggage,
pulling out espresso cups I rolled in socks.
“What’s this?” one asks
groping my coffeemaker.
Earlier, at the second airport, they took my lip gloss, my perfume –
but it’s solid perfume –
and my deodorant.
The man behind the counter grinned
“Would you like to use it one last time?”
and smoothed his jacket.
Now, how many hours later,
there is nothing to do but sleep,
to not remember yesterday
the summer or spring
to remember instead
my California house
all one story open
like everything else in America:
Fields stretching across the country’s middle
pushing out corn, wheat, oats
for a hundred million boxes of Raisin Bran
to be crated in trucks, bumped over streets, black and wide
like marker smeared over a child’s drawing of hills,
while the people large,
tall and fleshy
stand on sidewalk corners and wait
for a light to change.
Where I am going we don’t even have snow.
We grow lemons in the backyard
and every Saturday
the Orthodox Jews go for walks.
The men wear high hats
and the women’s dresses go down
to their ankles.
people smile so much.
The waiters smile as they refill
your water-glass and ask
with the smiling emptiness of a stranger,
“Is everything all right?”
– Zoë Bogart
Download “Palo Alto Again” as a PDF.