March and April are Spring Break months, and since we at GCP are Spring Breaking as we write, today’s Thoughtful Thursday offerings are about vacations. In “Vacation”, Rita Dove, who in 1987 became the second African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1993–1995, reminds us how we eagerly anticipate the start of a vacation. And although Nikki Giovanni’s “Vacation Time” is included in a book of children’s poetry she published in 1981, her definition of vacation time will surely resonate strongly with adults. Enjoy.



I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Rita Dove

Vacation Time

What should I write
a poem about
I asked my eight year old son
“Something good” he said to me
“Something that would be fun”

I tried to think
what fun could mean
to me feeling old and wry
All the bills paid and a broken spade
in the middle of July
“All the bills paid and a broken spade
in the middle of July!”
Incredulously he looked at me
“Please tell me the reason why”

The reason why is the reason
because when I’m feeling old
and wry
with all the bills paid
and a broken spade
Vacation time is nigh

Nikki Giovanni