in-flight entertainment

For dVerse’s MTB Opening lines…beginnings prompt:


I didn’t think to fold my shadow
and place it in the overhead compartment,
or under the seat in front.
It should have been mentioned
in the pre-flight warnings.

And now it has come loose –
although not for want of trying,
chasing desperately below.
But I cannot see it on the sea,
it must have drowned or turned back.

Will I walk across the tarmac
smiling and revelling in new-found lightness,
or head down, in a cloud of vague unease,
a not-quite-wholeness, a not-belongingness.

Perhaps I can go to lost luggage,
and claim someone else’s as mine –
stitch it on with a travel sewing kit,
just a few stitches – easy to unpick –
so I can try it out, just while I’m away.

And then perhaps I’ll keep it, or perhaps not.
I can decide when I get home.

 I haven’t done any travel for a while, and I don’t really miss it to be honest, although I do enjoy the suspension of responsibility during a long flight. The last time I flew there were no screens on the seat in front, and there was only work on my laptop. So I found myself watching the plane’s shadow and daydreaming, and started writing this. The MTB prompt inspired me to rummage it out and finish it.   


Filed under musings, poem

26 responses to “in-flight entertainment

  1. Your poem fits me to a T … I love traveling, morphing into someone completely different, wild, nutty …. returning home to boring old me. Great poetry,

  2. Terrific first line, intriguing and odd – and then as the poem takes off – so evocative of flight – and those days of going to work on a plane – and how identity and self are stitched together – yet easy to unpick. Lovely piece.

    • Thanks Peter. 🙂
      I find the idea of choosing or changing identity really interesting – and how other people identify us. I shared a house with a nurse for a while, and one day I introduced her to someone as “this is Susan, she’s a nurse”, and she got quite angry and gave me a lecture on how nursing was her job, not her identity. I’ve paid more attention to how I introduce people since, but I didn’t fully appreciate where Susan was coming from until I went back to work after a few years off with kids, and was introduced by my new boss to a colleague as “this is Kate, she has twins”.

  3. This is so clever. I love both the idea of the shadow and losing it, and the metaphorical meanings. I haven’t traveled much in recent years, but even when I’m out walking, I watch my shadow (and shadows, in general). 😀

  4. A very unique and interesting opening line! I love the concept of a folded shadow! Seems our shadows just stay in the chair these cold winter days!

  5. Grabber 1st line & very cool poem overall. For what it’s worth, I have a couple extra shadows (various sizes & umbras) which I’ll be happy to let you have at a reasonable cost, either on a sales or rental basis.

  6. Beverly Crawford

    I am convinced I’ve acquired someone else’s shadow and my upright, erect shadow belongs to someone else. The one I have now is stooped and seems to walk with a forward tilt. It must belong to some older woman!

  7. I love how this played out in the poem. I bet you anything her shadow is waiting for her when she gets home.

  8. sanaarizvi

    This is absolutely stellar writing, Kate 😀 I especially like; “Will I walk across the tarmac smiling and revelling in new-found lightness, or head down, in a cloud of vague unease.”💝💝

  9. Nicely done, Kate, from the surreal opening line and unusual setting to the way the poem unfolds. I love the idea of claiming someone else’s shadow and stitching it on with a travel sewing kit, which reminds me of Peter Pan.

    • Thanks Kim, I had in mind Peter Pan when I wrote it. 🙂 I edited the third stanza down – it originally included “will I go searching, hopelessly, for Wendy?”, but I thought it might be a bit obscure.

  10. Loved the opening line Kate, and Peter Pan — yes!

  11. Amazing how strange it is… traveling has become like a dream… love that first line.

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