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I Swam in a Cold Lake and Watched My Body Convulse on Shore

I secretly know I’d be a great flight attendant.

Poetry | Poetry Tuesday
January 4, 2022

My body—a flight attendant’s body,

one of the ones on a Chinese airline.


I watched them last time I was on an international

flight—their skinny arms and flat chests, their clean

sense of purpose. I had an aisle seat

and they bumped my elbow

with the beverage cart, said sorry to me in two

languages, both of them mine.


I thought I could be a flight attendant,

and in another life, I might’ve been.


My cousin is a flight attendant on Eva Air.

My other cousin, born three days before me

who wants to be a model, tried to be a flight attendant

instead. But she didn’t get it, said there was too much

memorization and she couldn’t remember everything.


I secretly know I’d be a great flight attendant.

I could discreetly close the overhead

bins, twist my hair back, tie the service

apron on, hand out hot towels, blink

my eyes big, say tea tea 茶茶

all the way down the aisle.


When offering small sandwiches

I might stare out of one of the windows,

imagine the ocean blue. Or, say, when cleaning

up a toddler’s vomit, I might yearn

for a less solitary life. But otherwise, loneliness

might be okay when surrounded by other

flight attendants in the sky, my body

a body made for tending to bodies in flight.

I’d breathe in the air of neither

here nor there. I’d remember everything

about my lives on earth.