Airport Feeling, by Marie Rollins

Photograph: 'Shanghai Airport' Hugh Llewelyn

I arrived a little late for my departure. I dragged my bags

on tired shoulders through the morning mist

into these polished halls at quarter after nine.

My first glance went, as always, to the ceiling

where foggy blues clung to repellent panes.

Outside forgotten pride fringed from some ragged flags,

I found one more tricoloured country to be mine.

Everything here cares about people less than about planes.

The rattling letters on those common screens make no excuses,

devoid of reasoning, they’re bringing us to terms and terminals


My bags are tagged, I head towards the useless

security control, I’m adding to the queue with my vague feeling

that there must be worse days for travelling. None come to mind.

Impatient calls force passengers in line,

some are afraid their name has made the no-flight list

the speakers play a music of some kind.

Next to the date, my destination lurks on the creased boarding card

I am admitted to the gate. The turnstile clicks and stews in its finality.


This runway treats the planes like family: dull and hard.

Last night, one of its children crashed. That made for headlines and a crude fatality.

The scanners chew on passport pages, the gangway looms

and beckons me. I’m furiously ready.

I turn around to catch a last glimpse of goodbye —


The engines stare at men in neon jackets, breathing fuel fumes,

the asphalt glimmers with black puddles, an unsteady

breeze tries to overthrow us. A child says the turbines look like

the underside of mushrooms and cuddles a threadbare teddy.

At last we pierce the skies with our overcrowded spike:

Now, given time to tend to thoughts that I’ve neglected,

I lean back in my well-travelled seat and, less than half-hearted,

listen to the known procedures, “Turbulence expected” —

the crew instructs us what to do when in distress.

I feel relief at having finally departed.

And have I missed you? Yes. Fuck yes.


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I am "a poet to a T". There is no time in my life that I remember when I did not want to write. A troubled student of a postgrad creative writing programme, I revel in the tormented existence of an aspiring writer and have written for newspapers and magazines. I enjoy caustic humour, witty articles and beautiful verses.

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