Poem of the Week | A Cheap Flight After Discharge by Leonie Lacey

A Cheap Flight After Discharge

by Leonie Lacey


Our mother’s worry echoes

in his every footstep, a slush

of wet sock meeting frayed insole.

A teaming fog of talk to me talk to me

trails his slighter frame, chokes

our hello in the terminal lobby.

There are beads dripping from his temple 

reflecting a gown clasp bruising spine, 

the clatter of a trolley guardrail

as he fell from the nurse’s grip.

He speaks of light turbulence

as though only the plane shook but


no, let’s unpack the bombs

from this suitcase first, old pyjamas

left behind on purpose,

the stench of our father’s guilt

emanating from the creased corners

of a birthday card; 

we read his scrawl in silence

and try not to blow up the room.


Days later our mother’s worry

oozes from grazes I can’t see

as we embrace at the foot of an escalator.

I tether myself to the bone of it,

a pillow shriek, a tiptoe around

his failing body. 

I will always be listening for 

the signs, the rapid flutter of his eyelids 

like bluebottle wings on glass.


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Cover photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash

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