Prayer before Flight

Prayer before Flight

(after Louis MacNeice)

I’m about to fly, so help me.

May the heaven-bound youth with a
lust for virgins miss my flight.
when the prodding wand comes my way
let it beep briefly, and be
gone

Give me this day
panties like a crab’s carapace,
shield me from the scanner with the voyeur eye;
dress me in corsets for coarse hands and
in bras to brace me for the small room
where they queue with a fiat
to grope
me

Kill us foxes for our furs,
bulls for our belts &
alligators for the shoes on that flight –
and may the soles on all shoes on that plane
be true wood

May the pops on that flight
spill champagne and
no more

I am hijabed, have mercy.
I lack grace under grief:
do not profile me with the Palestinian beard,
the Arab-sounding name, or the youth from Lagos.
may my sufferings be brief.
let the cup of Iraqi-accented Urdu-speaking men from Yemen
pass by me

I am scared,
bung me up.
constipate me when I eat.
insulate me from the long toilet call
on that ten-hour-trip in the skies

Grant me short, dreamless sleep when I doze.
seat the spy on the plane far from me.
& if I mutter in my sleep,
may the words ‘bomb’ and ‘terror’
not be said

Bless me with a pilot that has learnt how to take-off
and land, and may your kingdom come
(not today).

Chuma Nwokolo