“Departure” by Nancy Campbell

From an aisle seat you crane past me to watch
the wing rehearse miniscule mechanical jetés.
We are already beyond time zones
and it is winter, so we should not be surprised
that night fell as we roamed Duty Free
sampling incompatible perfumes
nor disappointed that our last glance
towards the city we must leave
reveals only our own reflections
on this dark window. Coloured lamps
marking alternative runways
turn slowly across our brows
as the plane drags its reluctant mass
over the asphalt. The carriage jolts;
the wing wobbles; imagine the tiny wheels below,
the delicate axels which never snap!
An attendant mimes the usual advice: Please
fasten your seatbelts now – Don’t smoke –
Put your own mask on securely before
you help another. The plane has stopped.
The crew unfold their seats. In the cockpit
a decision is reached. The terminal
quivers a farewell through seething heat
and our plane rips forwards, peeling the lights
which perforate the runway’s edge
up in a line behind us. As it banks sharply,
I turn to you for reassurance –
reflected in your lenses planes from other airlines
answer the acute angle of our ascent
by blinking, and bracing themselves to land.


Nancy Campbell’s books include Disko Bay (shortlisted for Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2016 and the Michael Murphy Memorial prize 2017) and a memoir, The Library of Ice: Readings from a Cold Climate (Simon & Schuster, 2018). Nancy is currently working with The Poetry Society and the Canal & River Trust as the UK’s Canal Laureate, writing poems to surprise and delight users of the waterways. You can discover more of her work at www.nancycampbell.co.uk