Baggage Claim

There is a certain color of lonely
that comes when you walk out to baggage claim,
carry-on digging into your shoulders,
and there is no one to yell your name with a wait-
weary smile.
                        The kind of sinking feeling that’s both
                        slow and fast, like a dumbwaiter,
                        ropes cut with broken brakes clamped on.

It’s the color of my collarbones—all grass-stained
jeans, stiff knees, and puffy paint sneakers—
while an old man shuffles past
with a cardigan-sweatered neck.

                        Too old to be lost when I know where I am, I want
                        my parents to sweep in like a breath mint,
                        forest green rinsing over recycled-air-grey
                        and TSA-anger-blue, for my mom to pull out

a ziplock full of dumplings and a pair of disposable
chopsticks from her purse and for my dad to pull
me into a too-short hug so I barely
catch a hint of bar soap and mousse foam.

                       The cardigan man lugs his bag out of line,
                       nicking my hip on the way out, and I see his wife
                       waiting outside, hair curled and doxin-armed.

Ten minutes after LAST BAG flashes
on the notice screen, I see my duffle slump
onto the empty belt like a ragged flag waving to
welcome me home, the long white tag saying,
I am here, I am here.


About the Author
Abigail Pak (she/her) is a recent 2022 college grad with a Bachelors in English from Westmont College. After spending the summer volunteering on a ranch—riding horses, wrestling calves, feeding chickens—in Wyoming, she is back home, writing when she can. She has been published in Phoenix Magazine and The Inkslinger.