Posted by: John Looker | 3 May, 2020

Remember when we could fly?

“Even an airport dreams at night …”

Looking back to before Covid-19, and looking ahead: this poem was published in the last issue of Poetry Salzburg Review – in other words, before virtually all flights were banned.



  Even an airport dreams at night. 
There was an unfamiliar hush, the lighting was low, 
a handful of late arrivals, stranded, stretched out 
on chairs amid the columns and dense interior planting. 
Time was sleeping. But he himself could not, alert 
to the finest shifts of shapes in the half-lit hall  
or indecipherable sounds. 
  His eyes picked out the night workers, slowly
and silently moving among the shadows: 
the cleaners, security, the fillers of shelves. 
And he must have dozed because, on looking again, 
he saw that the scene had altered. 
  The strings of a lute – no, surely a guitar – 
were gently humming and figures, glimpsed
in an unexpected beam of golden light, 
were gathered around, sitting maybe on a bench
or standing about. And there she stood. Graceful.
Poised. Dressed in the colours of remembered woods. 

Her silhouette! It was this that he noticed first 
and then her face looking his way – and her eyes 
returning his look seemed suddenly familiar 
as though he had known them somewhere, some day,
before. He moved, and for a moment believed
that she might approach. But she turned away 

  back to the circle that held her. 


© John Looker 2019

This is the second poem in a draft sequence entitled The Galahad Call. I posted the opening poem (The Point of Departure) here in November. I am grateful to Poetry Salzburg Review for publishing these two poems.



  1. I love this, John, and yes it paints a picture of how it is to be in the airport when you think there is nothing much going on but upon a second look…much more than you might imagine. A wonderfully, poignant read. Take care and be well.


    • Thank you Renee – I very much appreciate that. You too take care in these bizarre and unsettling times.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a wonderful poem, full of so many things. My immediate response was to remember a night sleeping in a deserted Geneva airport, then came the dryad……


    • Thank you so much Kim. I’m very pleased it seems to have worked for you. And here’s a coincidence: many years ago my girlfriend and I arrived very late at Geneva airport too and slept on the floor there!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Did they keep the musak on all night? When I was there, it was a chiming version of ‘How much is that doggy in the window’. I still bear the scars…. 🙂


        • Sounds ghastly! I don’t remember there being any musak – or even music – but it was a long time ago.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, John, for this lovely view of what it feels like for many of us now…where are we? late night, after all flights are done for the day – such a sense of desolation if one is alone….thank you!


    • Hi Julie. It’s good to hear from you, and look after yourself. As you say, there’s such a sense of desolation for many. All the best, John


  4. Thank you, John, for this rich poem. Although it predates our pandemic it somehow gives us a subtle reflection. I have often criticized airports for giving all their seating arm rests so that no-one can stretch out and sleep. This has to be done on the floor and seems to me to be an unnecessarily autocratic design decision by the airport managers..


    • Thank you Jane – that’s kind of you. I must say, I share your feelings about those airport seats! Take care of yourself.


  5. You paint a lovely scene with your words, John!


  6. […] you to John Looker for his poem that put dryads in my thoughts as I saw this particular poetry challenge!  My […]

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great Kim – I’ll go and look for it.


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