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13 Ways of Looking at an Airplane

Zuzu Tadeushuk

I am currently sitting on a plane suspended somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, headed from NY to Paris, again. Having returned home from Paris not even four days ago, this morning I was still figuring out what to post here about my homecoming when… I found out I was shipping off to Paris again this evening! So, rather than write about home, I will write about the next best thing— the thing that seems to have become my home in the past few months: an airplane. Well, no one can accuse me of being a couch potato in this year off of mine! (Although I probably qualify as an airplane potato and that can't be much better?)

Anyway, here are my current musings on aircraft residency, in a form spun off of Wallace Stevens’ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird:


Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Airplane:



29 times faster than steamship.


I can maybe meet you tomorrow for coffee, but I won’t know until the morning. I might be getting on a plane instead..


Portal to opportunity.


Portal to death.


One earth, 

five layers of atmosphere, 

one orbiting moon, 

one constant shell of metal travel, teeming somewhere in the middle.


Maybe closer to heaven


But mostly feels like hell 


French taxi drivers on strike surrounded Orly Oest and did not let my Uber through. This is why I left early, I remind myself. To find another path to my airplane.


It was night and it was day. Apollo inverted, I chased the sunrise across the globe, hungry for that thin band of gold

that flew

just a little faster

than I did.


An old man with his dentures out has a row to himself in the Priority Cabin. He’s slowly leafing through his passport as if it were Crime and Punishment. Perhaps it is. His mouth’s a sunken cavern, like my grandma’s when I used to put her to bed.


Landing on a tiny strip on the island of Tortolla after a short and choppy ride, everyone clapped and I think I teared up. My first plane ride.


The number of contorted positions I’ve improvised in my aisle seat could get me a yoga-teaching certification. It couldn't get me to sleep, though.


I rented a place among the stars for an evening. 

Between one of these settling-ins and the next, I was celestially unsettled, and I woke to a different shining.

A doze, a bad smell, a shudder, and we open eyes now on other lands.