In the airport the fat sunburned people coming back from vacation
look happier than anyone, with their Hawaiian shirts and varicose veins
and faint aroma of suntan lotion.

I look down on them because their happiness is so superficial.
It is an imaginary battle that they win without trying,
by continuing to be themselves–

joking, telling family stories, eating nachos before lunch.
Like it or not, oneself is always the test case for the human condition.

The baby starts out as a luminous jellybean of god
and gradually transforms into a strange, lopsided growth:

a man who will not let himself be touched;
an aging girl who smiles and is angry with the moon.

Underneath the smile is bitterness, and underneath the bitterness is grief,
and underneath the grief is the desire to survive at any cost.

The music on the airport intercom is supposed to make it easier.
That and the Southern accent of the flight announcers,

with their colorful speech impediments of moonshine and molasses.

“Where I am going I do not wish to go,” wrote Bertolt Brecht,
but what he meant was that he did not want to be himself.

Yesterday I wished for rain, the cold clear kind that falls from very high,
and when it fell, I felt such joy.

But it’s what I don’t pray for that can rescue me.
Surprise, surprise, only surprise will help me on my way.