Shortly after my company took over the operation of most of the airports in Saudi Arabia, I was visiting the old Jeddah facility. The manager and I hopped in a golf cart for a quick tour. He said “there is something I want you to see” and he drove out to the end of the longest runway. We looked out across the arid, flat, desert scrub and saw bags as far as the eye could see. There were travel bags, boxes tied with twine, designer trunks, metal containers, a seemingly endless variety of items that at some point were precious to travelers. This was the place where luggage came to die. And a long and lingering death it was. In the mid-1970’s in Saudi Arabia, there was nothing more telling about the need to modernize at least some aspects of everyday life.
These bags wound up there because the structure that was supposed to supervise their safe travel was completely broken. And the solution was to drop them off in the desert and pretend they never happened.
I fear that in the modern world, the same thing is happening to many of the poorest citizens who have been caught in nations that no longer function. In these places no one seems able or willing to fix the problems from within and no one wants to step in and take on the problems. Instead, the general consensus is that it is someone else’s issue and we hope they will disappear into the desert where we can pretend they never existed.
All over the world, the ground is shaking beneath our feet, and we keep hoping the earthquakes will happen somewhere else. Population shifts are happening as we hide within our daily lives. Migrants are flowing like water from one place to another and the levees aren’t high enough.
We are running this world the way the Saudis were running their airports in the mid-1970’s. It won’t work.
What is happening in the Middle East is indicative of what is happening all over the world, although, perhaps, in less media-attracted ways.
I wrote “Entering the Gulf” many years ago and included it in my first book Daydreams (Snap Screen Press, 2004).
“Gulf” has several meanings including “chasm” and “abyss”. Perhaps we should look at this as a place where we may all soon live.
Glenn K. Currie
(I also want to remind my readers that all of my books are still available in my website at www.snapscreenpress.com and at Gibson's bookstore in Concord, NH. Please visit my site to see descriptions on all of these publications)
Entering the Gulf
The ocean’s surface boiled,
Alive with red sea snakes,
Wildly striking out at
The churning of our wake.
The foam grew thick with blood,
Welling up from below,
Hell’s gates broken open,
Releasing venom’s flow.
These serpents seemed to guard
The entrance to this sea,
Warning those who pass here,
“This blood will flow from thee”.
Suddenly they were gone,
The Persian Gulf lay dead,
Silence like a gunshot,
So quick the vision shed.
The quiet like a veil,
Drawn o’er the Earth and sky,
An eerie, empty mask,
Concealing angry eyes.
The land then came in view,
It’s rage burning the air,
Desert sands spewing flames,
Black blood flowing everywhere.