"To Jo"
by Fiona Lowery

A subtle touch of sad goodbyes
Is echoed from the walls.
The roar of revving engines blends
with flight computer calls.
Those who leave bear anxious smiles
For those who smile and stay
But after flight departures
All smiles have blown away,

Sandshoes and stiletto heels
Make for exit doors;
Grey uniformed attendants stay
To polish sterile floors.
The airport bears no sympathy
For those who do not fly.
But I'd rather be the one that stays
Than have to say goodbye.

—Fiona Lowery
Australian global nomad, 16 years old
Video Cassette Reading—The Fine Arts Magazine
of The International School of Islamabad, 1984–1985

"We who have traveled in distant lands, in times preceding hermetically-sealed airports, will remember deep within ourselves how "the roar of revving engines blends with flight computer calls." We see ourselves again in "those who leave bear anxious smiles for those who smile and stay," and we know very well that "after flight departures all smiles have blown away." Fiona's poem evokes the memory and reality of airport partings.

"Fiona's poem also speaks to another reality: leavetaking is a reciprocal experience. For every person leaving, there is at least one person staying. Mobility impacts not only those who are leaving but also those staying behind. An airport may bear "no sympathy for those who do not fly," but conscious leavetaking must. Conscious leavetaking must recognize both sides of the relationship and acknowledge that those who stay will experience change and loss inasmuch as those who leave. In this regard Fiona needs cautioning when she says she would 'rather be the one that stays than have to say goodbye.' Fiona, staying on, must also say goodbye—perhaps not to places and possessions but certainly to a world that is now made different by the absence of her friend Jo."

—Barbara Schaetti

We welcome your comments, and we invite you to share your own experiences of international mobility through poetry, stories, or other prose.

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