Poetry: Anchorage International | clivejames.com
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Anchorage International

In those days Russia was still closed. My flight
Would cross the Pole and land at Anchorage
To refuel. Many times, by day or night,
I watched them shine or blink, that pilgrimage
Of planes descending from the stratosphere
Down some steep trail. As if I’d come to stay,
I lived in that lounge, neither there nor here:
The still point of transition. I would pay
For drinks with cash, it was so long ago —
But now, again, it is a place I know.

I’ve changed a lot, but these seats look the same,
Except there are so few of us who wait.
It’s like a party but nobody came.
There is no voice that calls us to the gate,
For no procession interrupts the sky.
It seems that this time I will not move on.
I have arrived. With nowhere left to fly,
I need not leave: I have already gone.
There’s almost nothing left to think about
Except the swirl of snow as I look out.

Here in this neutral zone at last we learn
That all our travelling must come to rest
In stillness: no way forward, no return.
We once thought to keep moving might be best
Until we reached the end, but it was there
From the beginning. Darkness gave the dawn
Its inward depth. The lights in the night air
That came down slowly were us, being born
Alive. The silver points in the pale blue
Of daylight were us dying. Both were true.

I bought your small white boxes marked Chanel
At Anchorage. I must have used a card.
Did I? I can’t remember very well.
In these last, feeble days I find it hard
To fix a detail of the way things were
And set it in its time. Soon there will be
Only one final thing left to occur,
One little thing. You need not fear for me:
It can’t hurt. Of that much I can be sure.
I know this place. I have been here before.