you couldn't tell them from the Poles and Germans
you just arrived with, flying with the sun.
They are their nation's face. It is proclaimed
on posters hanging from the booths they man.
You wait in line as each of them determines
who is with them and thus is not against;
who may come in and who is under ban.
These are the heartland's people, barely tamed.
Hard working people, friendly and polite
whose idealism can be clearly sensed;
their dreams America's their heartbeat hers.
Their stance denotes well meaning yet confers
the fact it doesn't take much provocation
to make them bare their teeth and bring about
their stern and merciless determination;
That tool their forebears used to take the land
and keep it, never questioning their right.
They welcome you, admit you with a smile,
but once inside, you're taken by surprise:
Is this a place you have already seen?
The decor's barren flair, the carpet's hue,
are thirty years at least behind in style.
Outside soft clouds are grazing pastel skies.
The sun by virtue of its flawless glare
has set the air to quiver casting doubt
on the solidity of what's in view:
The fading buildings, hangars, airplanes diving
or rising from the cracking pools of sheen.
These sights, the signs, the very words they bear
arouse in you a quaint forgotten mood,
like scents of childhood's day smelled once again.
You wonder at this feeling and conclude,
you might have travelled farther than you'd planned.
“Perhaps”, you tell yourself, “you are arriving
at L.P. Hartley's foreign country: Then”.