Scratches mar the stainless
steel surface where
countless keyless locks and
passengerless bags roam
the bowels of EWR.
“Liberty,” they now call it.
“Give me Liberty or give me Death”
makes the latter look good in comparison.
A handful of suitcases of all colors and sizes tumble
Down the conveyor belt,
unannounced by the annoying, yet still
pleasing sound for the seasoned traveler’s ear:
the foghorn of luggage arrival.
Like a bugler hearkening the dawn
at summer camp
But the Reveille of Liberty pipes a more
forlorn, Taps-like tune, like a forewarning
of lifeboats dropping off the side of the Titanic.
The flurry of duffels of unknown origin
tease those waiting impatiently,
foreplay for an act that
is never to be consummated.
No more bags are in sight. The
horseless, rider-less carousel
Weary travelers eye each other, warily, seeking
mutual signs of reassurance
that their beloved Gucci bag, or TJ Maxx- knockoff,
has not gone on to the great luggage Graveyard in the Sky.
And then, a funereal parade of black roller-bags
of a certain size commences,
as suddenly as the early glimpse of color and largesse.
sullen moods brighten,
feverish excitement builds.
The bags and their masters,
Reunited at last.
Collins is the director of corporate relations at Princeton University’s Bendheim Center for Finance.