Tiffany Higgins

Aeneas in the Airport

in the airport I see Aeneas from a distance
Aeneas has her helmet on

it is white and smudged from a distance
the helmet of Aeneas

smudged with the light
of the desert

I touch her arm
Where are you off to? I ask her

I’m with the National Guard, she says
I’m off to Iraq

Don’t worry, she says, and touches my arm
I will keep you safe   You can rest at home in that knowledge

Right, I say   Thank you

I watch Aeneas with the others board her plane
Charlottesville to Fallujah

I say a quick, involuntary prayer for her and for the others
(although I am not a prayer, and never have been)   and then she’s off

Aeneas boards her plane
tall, she has to duck her head to enter

the white-smudged helmet hits the frame of that entrance
and she takes it off, that spiked helmet

holding it against her heart
for the duration


"Aeneas in the Airport" is from And Aeneas Stares into Her Helmet (Carolina Wren Press, 2009).