What was that again?

The first time I take
my then youngest child
with me on a trip is also
the first time I’m not
traveling abroad alone.
It’s hard to manage two
carry-on wheelies &
a kindergartener who’s never
been on an escalator. Step.
Yes, step. Quickly before
the next one swallows
the one before it. This is
before the days of complicated
TSA checks & we’re still
on local soil so an airport
orderly helps. I buy a bag
of peanut butter cookies
& a bottle of water.
We wait to board the plane.
My child is restless and skips
from one window to another,
humming under her breath.
There are foreigners of course:
in Hawaiian shirts, smelling
like suntan lotion, probably
back from Boracay or Cebu. One
of them, a white man, stoops
to talk to her, then folds
a ten dollar bill into a square
then tucks it swiftly into
the pocket of her sweater. He’s
nondescript: khakis, knit polo,
a little grey around the temples.
She’s six; pert, unafraid, makes
eye contact. He turns to me
without preamble, says he’s back
from the province where he’s gone
to meet the family of his lady
friend. He looked up a bureau,
got access to their catalogs
& this way found a nice girl
he’ll marry & take back
to a little town just outside
of Michigan. He says: by the way,
I gave her a little something
to keep safe for me until
next time. I gather up my child,
our things, as thankfully
the doors open for boarding.

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