They lose their fight to hold back tears
as they struggle for the words to say goodbye.
An awkward final embrace, then
a flight attendant gently takes the child's hand.
At jetway entry, the child turns.
From under a mop of yellow curls,
red-rimmed eyes look where the father stands.
Brave waves exchanged,
the child continues toward the plane.
The father steps to the window,
presses his hands, leans his forehead.
To support himself?
To try to pass through the glass?
Condensate forms underneath his nose.
He stares at the plane as passengers embark.
The jetway retracts,
the plan backs away.
Until it disappears from view,
the father's fixed gaze follows.
Then, and only then,
he slowly turns,
rubs his eyes,
and leaves the gate.
19 July 2011
Denver International Airport