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Tuesday, January 03, 2017


by Devon Balwit

A Serbian woman who survived what was said to be a 10,000-metre (33,000ft) fall after a plane exploded in mid-air in 1972 has died aged 66. Vesna Vulović  (above in 1972 AP photo) was found dead by her friends in her apartment in Belgrade, Serbian state television reported. The cause of death was not immediately known. In January 1972 she was working as a flight attendant a Yugoslav Airlines DC-9 plane when it blew up over the snowy mountain ranges of what was then Czechoslovakia. All of the other 27 passengers and crew on board died.Initially paralysed from the waist down, Vulović eventually made almost a full recovery and even returned to work for the airline in a desk job. She never regained memory of the accident or her rescue. She said in 2008 that she could only recall greeting passengers before takeoff from the airport in Denmark, and then waking up in hospital with her mother at her side. She went on to put her celebrity at the service of political causes, protesting against Slobodan Milošević’s rule in the 1990s and later campaigning for liberal forces in elections. —The Guardian, December 24, 2016

The nervous begged to sit beside her on planes,
figuring anyone who had plummeted 33,000 feet
and lived had lucky coiled into her DNA.  Her fall
made her a mosaic reassembled by doctors and
by will.  Changed by gravity, she spoke out,
unafraid to call a butcher’s hands blood-dipped,
even if it cost her job.  The tiniest stone can clog
an engine, resisting from where it’s hurled.

Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook Forms Most Marvelous forthcoming from dancing girl press (summer 2017). Her recent poems can be found in: Oyez, The Cincinnati Review, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, TheNewVerse.News, Noble Gas Quarterly, Timberline Review, Trailhead Magazine, Vector, and Permafrost.