On Light: Clear, and Shackled

Last night's rain gleams dully in patches
on the tarmac, where planes come and go

like fleets of birds with cargo heavy in
their bellies; and motorized lorries wait

to unload all the luggage we carry
with us to varied destinations—

On the flight I took, hundreds of men,
some young, most in middle age, returning

from brief visits home to family; now,
again en route to Doha or Dubai where

they work all year to send remittances
back for their children's education,

house repair, a daughter's wedding,
a funeral, a sister's surgery. Let no one

say we didn't do whatever it took to lift
our own from life mired in the quicksands

of debt and penury, from the thousand
ways circumstance passes for fate

because you can't afford to buy
a ticket out of your history of

disasters. Waiting at yet another
terminal for the next connection,

observe how even light laminates
and crackles; how it oils surfaces

puddling in the pass of bodies
more sleekly fueled, rather than

passing cleanly through. Impediment—
from Latin, impedire: literally meaning

to shackle the feet. Who or what takes
such pleasure from cleaning a plate

of glass to sterile transparency, so small
creatures mistake the gleam for opening,

so the joy of its sighting is swiftly
cut by the ripples their bodies make?

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