Banana Baggage by Linda Ankrah-Dove

Banana Baggage

Linda Ankrah-Dove

I found the banana in a corner of my suitcase wrapped
between a pair of walking shoes and a big red sweater—
or a jumper, as the English say.

That case—lost luggage—had flown across the Pond,
across the Midwest plains, across the Rockies, and all the way to L.A.
It sat on my doorstep back east in Virginia three days later.

That banana flew six thousand miles in a jumbo’s hold to rest
on the floor of baggage claim—who knows how long—
in terminal A or B or maybe D, in one airport or another.

February storms diverted all flights from Chicago. At Dulles, TSA staff,
in uniform but hassled-looking, dispensed with baggage claim inspection
because of the disruptions. Speed over security, presumably.

They did, though, put our bodies through the usual scrutiny.
Shoes, jackets, electronics, keys, all piled on grey plastic trays.
Apples, water bottles tossed into overflowing trash bins.

Our carry-ons and trays shunted through the x-ray tunnels.
Step aside if you wear a pacemaker, metal in your knees or hips,
or any other place. Bodies stood aside, exposed quite naked.

The rest of us raised our arms as if to wave white flags,
and were patted down and let go to trudge on and on
to terminal A serving local flights and small, damp and cramped.

Loudspeakers croaked repeatedly to say a plane down south
in Lexington had been diverted for our forty-minute flight.
An hour later, we boarded that tiny jet in driving snow.

They de-iced the wings once we were on board and
we waited.                    They de-iced again,
green spray spilling down the grimy window glass.

At last, we clambered up through freezing rain and heavy clouds,
up into blue evening skies, westward over the Piedmont plain,
the Blue Ridge range, the familiar Massanutten Peak near home.

Through black clouds, a quick descent to the little Shenandoah Airport.
and we landed with a bump blind and braced but safe.
Be careful stepping down. The stairs are slippery.

In arrivals, two checked-in bags somersaulted onto the baggage rail.
But not mine. I asked the man in uniform were more to come.
That‘s the lot, he said, not unkindly.

He read my bag receipt issued in Heathrow seventeen hours before.
On a slip of paper, he wrote me down an 800 number.
Call and we’ll deliver straight to your front door.

So how about that banana?

On my doorstep, my suitcase landed overnight,
a darkish stain on the bag’s soft cover, a shape not unlike
the squished body of a rat flattened on the road. 

A mushy mess cuddled the banana, skin smelly,
soft brown flesh like fermented innards—my red sweater.
No one but myself had packed that bag in London

and, personally, I’ve never much liked bananas.

About the Author

Before the poetry bug struck her, Linda Ankrah-Dove was privileged to work as an economist and sociologist in developing countries all over the world. A decade ago, she founded First Monday Poets in her new home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and more recently, gained her cross-genre MFA in poetry. Her early poetry, 2007-2018, featured in her Borrowed Glint of Jade, and she has also published poems in the Virginia Literary Review, EchoWorld, several Bridgewater International festival anthologies, MonthstoYears, PoetryXHunger, DC Trending, and the anthology, Written in Arlington. Her poem won first prize in the 2021 Shenandoah Green Earth Day Poetry Contest. The poet currently has a second full-length poetry manuscript out for consideration by several publishers and is more than halfway through organizing a third manuscript.