Poetry Porch: Poetry


Sestina from Steerage
By Sheila A. Murphy

See my weary bespectacled eyes
that squint into fading light. Hear
profanityís general assault — where
security cameras outline a metal hip,
a pat-down tickles, and I begin to laugh,
ignoring the decorum age should remember.

Buy my own food, I need to remember.
Expect to walk and walk. Keep my eyes
on my bag, not on the airport scene. Laugh
when the seatís too small, when we hear
the plane will sit on the tarmac until my hip
is aching. Trapped by a seat back that I wear

on my lap, I scan the teen in front, where
with green hair and an iPod, he will remember
to set it loud till its pounding rhythms and hip
lyrics make both our seats twitch. Meanwhile, eyes
shut to an infantís unrelenting howls, Iím here
in my echo chamber and straight jacket. Laugh,

I remind myself, lest the opposite of laugh —
that is, tears — begins to take control. Oh where
are the flights of yesteryear? Stewardess there
at your elbow, edible meals, space. I remember
being treated like royalty, my widening eyes
as the Grand Canyon or Diamond Head appeared. Hip-

healthy, I flew once-friendly skies before hip
became an adjective, before sights to laugh
at became crude and lewd, before my eyes
began to gape at cleavage, at teens wearing
sagging jeans, tattoos, piercings. I remember
personnel before computer check-in. Here,

bracing for takeoff, the announcements we hear —
packed in this flying-sardine-can, as a hip
friend refers to our plane — chide us to remember
to buckle-up and move seats upright. I laugh
at gaining a few inches to stretch my feet where
I rummage for a book to treat my eyes

and soul, to feed my mind and forget my hip
until I hear weíre landing. Meanwhile: laugh
at myself, forget about flying — until I need to remember.

Copyright © 2020 by Sheila A. Murphy.