by Dana Lichty

During the stop-and-go, stop-and-go
ride to the airport, we laugh about
remodeling our apartment—the glass block insert
that nearly collapsed the back wall,
the upside-down wine rack.

All this chatter is a smoke screen.
The cab drops us at the international terminal.
We beeline to the gate,
rendezvous with other nervous families.
Almost everyone clutches a camera.

Waiting is unbearable. Conversation stalls.
The Korean Air jet lands.
A flight attendant opens the door,
peers out, disappears.
The crowd aches with impatience.

Necks crane for a glimpse of someone, anyone.
A few disheveled passengers meander off the plane.
Finally, a smiling woman appears, carrying a crying infant.
She moves into the crowd.
We watch them for only a heartbeat.

Soon another woman disembarks with a small baby.
And another and another.
A face familiar from home visits and
interviews at last emerges.
She is cradling a black-haired child,

heads straight for us.
I push toward them.
My heart opens wider with each step.
At last, she presents our new daughter,
wet and fitful after her long journey.

I’ve just given birth at JFK.
In my arms,
Jung-Im smiles
the tiniest smile, and
reaches for my shiny gold earring.

Dana Lichty wrote thousands of grant proposals, reports, and fundraising letters during her career as a consultant to nonprofits in New York City. In 2018 she co-authored The Goddard Riverside Story, a history of one of those organizations. Her poetry writing began after moving to Asheville, North Carolina, eight years ago. “Renovation” is Dana’s first published poem.

About Renovation—This poem is dedicated to my daughters, Sarah Seul-Kee and Jessica Jung-Im, both of whom I birthed at JFK—lucky, lucky me.