Paeans on a Plane, poetry by Shelly Blankman at

Paeans on a Plane

Paeans on a Plane

written by: Shelly Blankman


Nothing is more unequal than the unequal treatment of people.” – President Thomas Jefferson


We crossed the country, a five-hour flight, our business-row seats
in clear view of the first. A cacophony of clicking seatbelts, muddled
safety announcements and revving engines that soon eased into silence.

We became the audience for a first-class production. A mesh curtain
was a barless cell door –a silent slam. We watched flight attendants
wearing Pepsodent smiles handing out elegant menus with delectable

choices for dinner. Would passengers prefer their steak medium rare
or well done? Their wine Bordeaux or Merlot? How about refills to go
with luscious desserts. And cloth napkins. Conversation flowed freely

between flight attendants and passengers. Laughter filled the cabin
like a helium balloon. A cloud-bound cruise for them. For us? Our cloud
was thick, and raindrops outside were darting horizontally, as if to cheat

the wind. Small packets of pretzels passed to us tasted like this was not
their first flight. No fancy goblets of wine. Just water and pop-top cans
of soda if we asked for a drink. Alcohol by request served in plastic cups.

We were only a few seats away from an airborne luxury trip, spectators
of a farce, laughing, careful not to cough up pretzel crumbs while waiting
for a cup of water, or trying to wedge ourselves into a conversation

between flight attendants and their passengers. We didn’t miss the menus
or wine. We didn’t miss meals cooked to perfection. We just wanted to be
served smiles the way we deserved, not treated like paeans on a plane.

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