An Air Steward Performs the Safety Demonstration by Simon Cockle

Standing there,
you were an anxious prima donna,
waiting in the first position.
I noticed the scarf around your neck:
tied in a hurry, it looked like a failed air-kiss.
After capturing our attention,
you began the performance;
the carefully choreographed tale
of the tailspin, the landing at sea,
how we oxygenated ourselves into delirium
to minimise the horror of it.

I thought of Yvonne Rainer –
the humdrum gestures, a fever
of repetition – while you showed us
the emergency exits like the Jesus of Rio
in the vivid livery of a budget airline.
We saw your mask fall as you made
the life jacket float us to
an undiscovered country.

Behind you, your partners
mirrored each move you made,
like Russian dolls, receding,
between the headrests.  At the end,
we were left in no doubt; it was a dance
we would all perform, sooner or later.

Simon Cockle is a poet and writer from Hertfordshire. He writes as part of Poetry ID, a Stanza of the Poetry Society. His poems have been published in iOTA, the London Progressive Journal and Pantheon Magazine, amongst others. He was invited to read at this year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival as part of the Poetica Botanica event. He teaches English in a local comprehensive school, and has a wife and daughter who nod reassuringly when he reads them his poems.

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