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Up in the air

With my head on your shoulder
the flight attendant must have thought we were honeymooners
heading east over the ocean
sleeping peacefully with disheveled hair
hands folded on my chest
your shoulder as my pillow.
You carefully sipped your wine so as not to disturb
a woman whose name you didn’t know.
I won’t tell you that I’ve graded twenty papers on postcolonial literature,
cooked enough food to feed two children for a week,
and wrapped Walter Benjamin protectively in my underwear, not forgetting
to pack my computer, camera charger, and manuscripts,
all of which left my nerves so frayed that I fell asleep
on the shoulder of a man whose name I didn’t know.
You and I are probably very much alike,
each with a full life, which nevertheless seems
at moments like these to have neither past nor future,
like a bottle of water drunk in a hurry and tossed away.

Don’t ask me where I’m headed
just because you let me borrow your shoulder for five hours
or because you refrained, for my sake, from getting up to go to the bathroom.
I might not have been actually asleep.