Palo Alto Again

Zoë Bogart


Airport #3. I silently raise my arms

letting her run the metal detector

up my legs, against my back, my breasts

her mouth taut, tingling.


I remove my shoes, my belt, my ring.

I hand over my phone.

I even laugh with the men at Customs

as they unzip my luggage,

pulling out espresso cups I had rolled in socks.

“What’s this?” one asks

groping my coffeemaker.


Earlier, at the second airport, they took my lip gloss, my perfume –

but it’s solid perfume – and my deodorant.

The man behind the counter grinned

“Would you like to use it one last time?”


Now, on the final plane,

there is nothing to do but sleep,

to not remember yesterday

the summer or spring

to remember instead more distantly

my California house

all one story, open, spreading

like everything else in America:


Fields stretching across the country’s middle

pushing out corn, wheat, oats

for a hundred million boxes of Raisin Bran

to be crated in trucks, bumped over streets, black and wide

like marker smeared over a child’s drawing of hills,

while the people large, tall, and fleshy

stand on sidewalk corners and wait

for a light to change.


Where I am going we don’t even have snow.

We grow lemons in the backyard and every Saturday

the Orthodox Jews go for walks. The men wear high hats

and the women’s dresses go down to their ankles.

And Jesus, people smile so much.


The waiters smile as they refill your water-glass and ask

with the smiling emptiness of a stranger,

“Is everything all right?


[This poem previously appeared in the Leland Quarterly, the literary magazine of Stanford University.]




Zoë Bogart graduated from Stanford University in 2007 with a BS in Symbolic Systems and a minor in Creative Writing. After working as an English teacher in Milan for a year and a Market Research Analyst in California for another year, she will be heading to the University of Malta in the fall to study Language Communication Technologies under the Erasmus Mundus European Masters program.