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

circles round

and around.

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.

Eyes lighten,

sullen moods brighten,

feverish excitement builds.

The bags and their masters,

Reunited at last.

Homeward Bound.

Collins is the director of corporate relations at Princeton University’s Bendheim Center for Finance.

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