Iowa Writes

JESSICA WILSON
Thirteen Ways of Flying


I.
Flying to is one way to fly. Flying from is another.

II.
In the night, in the fog: the red light on the airplane wing, the red light blinking through the fog and the night like the eye of God. I wanted to tell you about this light. I wanted to tell you about it passionately, with a proselytizing fervor. Then I remembered I did not know this light; I could not claim it; it was not mine. It was a light in a story in a book, a story half-remembered, a book once read. A book about planes and lights and nights and fogs and God. A book perhaps about blinking and surely about flying.

III.
Think of a dream of falling: the rush of air, the rush of blood, the rush of fear, the exhilaration. The jolt with which you awake. Is this so different? But think then of flying into the ground. Of falling up. Think of how one can fall purposefully or fly aimlessly. Away to do each. Neither is necessarily known. The certainty is fungible. What this means is that flying and falling are morally indistinguishable.

IV.
Immersed in a great and serene humming. To lean your head against the window in a small calm thrall. The clouds and the sea below. The land is also sea and the sea is tufted as clouds in the land of clouds. To need to be nowhere; to be everywhere. To be between. To hover neither here nor there.

I.
Flying to is one way to fly. Flying from is another.

II.
In the night, in the fog: the red light on the airplane wing, the red light blinking through the fog and the night like the eye of God. I wanted to tell you about this light. I wanted to tell you about it passionately, with a proselytizing fervor. Then I remembered I did not know this light; I could not claim it; it was not mine. It was a light in a story in a book, a story half-remembered, a book once read. A book about planes and lights and nights and fogs and God. A book perhaps about blinking and surely about flying.

III.
Think of a dream of falling: the rush of air, the rush of blood, the rush of fear, the exhilaration. The jolt with which you awake. Is this so different? But think then of flying into the ground. Of falling up. Think of how one can fall purposefully or fly aimlessly. Away to do each. Neither is necessarily known. The certainty is fungible. What this means is that flying and falling are morally indistinguishable.

IV.
Immersed in a great and serene humming. To lean your head against the window in a small calm thrall. The clouds and the sea below. The land is also sea and the sea is tufted as clouds in the land of clouds. To need to be nowhere; to be everywhere. To be between. To hover neither here nor there.

V.
Fish squirrel camel circus. Rhino monkey
trapeze. Wallendas and
Kasparov Brothers. Dutchman or
Spaghetti Monster. Noodle and biscuit and
tart. Saucer. Ointment.
Kite colors leap. Fingers blind nun.
By the seat of his pants. By night. Solo.
Buttress bridge boat bomb.
Fear of and dreams.
Object comma unidentified.
That which does not fly, flies.

VI.
Unexpectedly. (Bumblebees.) Defiantly, although, despite. Fatly and buzzingly and sedately. With whizz and whomp and poisoned sting. This is the opposite of flying because.

VII.
Plane: to make smooth or even. A flat surface. A level of existence. To fly while keeping the wings motionless. To skim across the surface.

Jetbellied. I am motionless inside a great machine which is moving and therefore I too am moving and therefore I am not still. However: Einsteinian: and we are both moving and we are all still—

VIII.
Asleep, so that you wake upon touchdown and the flight is as a dream, except that you are no longer where you once were which is to say that you are no longer who you once were. But wouldn't that be true even if you had never boarded the plane?

IX.
Or in the body of the body by the body. I mean: flying, yes, me, really, unaided, yes, like so. As if I had always known. The hollowness of bones and the whirl of air and the great glory of soaring on the drifted wind. Look, the hair on my arms stands up in the breeze. Look, I am part of such a blue immensity. Words like dive and swoop and glee and joy are small in the infinite space of the sky and my heart expanding accordingly. Words like gratitude. To call it imaginary cheapens it. Don't we all, from the smallest age, know exactly how it would feel?

X.
Cautionarily. Waxwinged. Tallowfeathered. Think of Icarus who melted so that you would not have to. Desperately dizzily burningly. With an unholy eye-gleam.

XI.
Into the sunset if you like. To the moon if you had rather. To the moon takes you around and around and around the sunset before leaving it behind in the rocket trail of memory. After sunset, moonrise; but on the moon there is no sunset. Does this mean that the more you want, the closer to home you ought to stay? But then should we fly at all to begin with?

XII.
That is a false question.

XIII.
Like shadow, like light: Fast enough to meet myself on the way. With a second to spare. In the dark, for breathing.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JESSICA WILSON

Jessica Wilson is an MFA candidate in the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. She moved here from Boston last August and is finding a host of things to love about living in "flyover country."

This page was first displayed
on January 13, 2009

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