by Annie Persons

I adjust my neck scarf, silken viper, so it conceals just enough skin to look professional. Professional, but inviting to the lonely middle-aged businessmen as they depart for even stuffier boardrooms. That is, after all, a part of my commission. The perpetual whine in the cabin is my own personal dog whistle—only I can hear it—a thin but unyielding reminder that I am thousands of feet above ground. Scrunching my waist, I perch my bony fingers delicately upon the beverage cart (the same box from a magician’s illusion) as I push it through the aisle, offering up dismal coffee and a smile. That aisle is a fat man’s artery: tight, clogged, and full of incredible pressure. And not just from the air that screams outside. No, my cheek muscles ache from constant beaming (grimace), and I later find that thick black eyeliner is permanently etched into my drooping lids. Nights standing up in the back of the plane, wretched flying birdcage, are haunted by the leers of countless nameless, faceless, passengers. I stare at their sleeping, reading, forms, lost in their own clouds: a collage of people, lives intersecting like Venn diagrams…and I am on the outside. Sure, I can change planes, and of course I’ll go home every now and then. But my life will forever revolve around the plane, the space of transition, that sense-defying vortex of enclosure and surrender.

Annie Persons is a student working towards an English major and creative writing minor at Washington and Lee University. She recently discovered a passion for poetry and its ability to both heal the soul and inspire the mind, and it has changed and continues to change the way she sees the world.