Coach Class Seats Poem

Coach Class Seats Poem By Charles Harper Webb

Each has a foot-square paper napkin stuck
to the headrest: a bow to budget travelers’ sensibilities.
Too bad each square evokes a paper toilet seat:
a 747 full of people shuffling in, then settling down to reek.
At least my hair won’t pick up grease
from God-knows-whom. At least I won’t be colonized
by roaming lice, or forced to lie, in effect, cheek-to-cheek
with a stranger (though his brain contains the same serotonin,
dopamine, and endorphins as mine, that mediate
the same trembling at takeoff, same intake of breath,
same slow relaxing of the hands on the armrests
as the plane climbs and the earth opens its green Atlas below).
No other head has ever been here, the squares state.
This experience is fresh, reserved for you.
The waiter changing the tablecloth before seating new
lovebirds where you’ve just proposed—
the nurse tearing a length of paper from the doctor’s
table on which you bled and writhed—no,
you’re not interchangeable, these gestures say. The way
that two-pound brookie sipped your Wooly Bugger,
then wrapped your line around a jutting root has never
in fishing history occurred before today.
Your fingerprints: unique as snowflakes. Your lover’s
kiss: nonpareil. You were the first, stepping onto your lanai
in Kona, ever to say, “Whoa, honey, look at that view!”
How cheap the thrill if everybody felt that way.
Of course they don’t, these napkins say. In all the miles
this plane will fly, there’ll never be a passenger to rival you.

Coach Class Seats Poem

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