Joseph Millar

    "What was your face before you were born?"
                                                              Zen koan

You sit with her in the airport
watching this laptop sci-fi classic,
the future LA with its saffron vapors,
its bruised rain and neon exhaust

its effigies, robots of flesh,
the "replicants" born with no memory

and the little detective, Eddie Olmos
with his stick figures of paper and foil

Sean Young with her glossy stoplight lips,
the way Harrison Ford has to instruct her
how to behave like a lover

for she has no past and no parentage
no farthest valley of childhood,
abandoned here at the edge of time

and you start to wonder who
you might be in the next world

without your own story
hard-won and tiresome,
its crooked promise
and broken steps

waiting in the carpeted metal jetway
at the western rim of the continent
listening to the wind outside
while the plane takes on fuel

having said your goodbyes
and bought no insurance as usual

then strapped in with her beside you,
a thin ghost rustling her magazine,
the oxygen mask hidden above
like a small moon

leaning back into the darkling seat
and focusing on your next breath,
the one with the planets and stars inside it

closing your eyes to the chromium daylight
poised for the long flight home.