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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.
Cover photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash