She pauses, lowers the blinds,
departs; the taxi pulls away;
she starts to leave herself behind;
sheds what her check-in baggage weighs,
the life her passport photo knows,
and layer by layer, herself decays,
dissolves, and then a new self grows,
holds court in the airport bar, portraying
an image drawn from movie roles.
The boarding pass still bears her name,
but unmoored, in the here and now
of transit, she can choose the game
and players, set the rules for how
they’ll play, and use her new-found flair
for risk to seize the winner’s crown.
The tannoy sounds. In striplight glare
the five-card poker hands she deals
are the columns and rows of solitaire.
Later she picks at her in-flight meal,
sobs silently at the film that’s shown,
at what the dark almost reveals:
to travel in this neither zone
simply unshackles her to feel
yet more detached, yet more alone.
Phil Vernon has lived in Kent since 2004, after twenty years in various countries in Africa. Returning to poetry in 2012 after a long break, he now embraces formal forms, and finds his words, emotions and ideas thus surprise him more often. His poetry has appeared in a number of journals and been shortlisted in several competitions. Some of his poems can be read at https://philvernon.net/category/poetry/