Paula Brancato

In Flight: Paula Brancato

In Flight

I might be sitting in First Class
on American Airlines from LA to Miami,
the day hot in both places,
the place where we live and the place we do not,
moving from Pacific to Atlantic,
the memory of your kiss on my lips,
of your tongue, making me shift in my seat uneasily.

I might have just finished reading on the runway
a screenplay written by a friend,
the story closing with violence – bodies covered in lime dust,
brick-red blood darkening a windshield,
and guns exchanged for love.
The protagonist stares at the pink innards of a murderer
he gutted with one shot,
all to protect a woman – a woman
whose lips he did not kiss
as she lay by his side the previous night
and spoke of her dead husband.

How death can weave its way into the face, the breast, the hands of a lover,
be with us before the lover himself
knows, before his life
slowly unravels, pulling itself, thread by thread
through time and light and space.

The touch of death,
of forgetfulness. Your hands
holding my head while you trace my mouth with your lips.
The place where we live,
the places we do not
and nothing else
except love
falls between sex and death.

I am the 2015 winner of the Tampa Review’s Danahy Fiction Prize and of the 2015 Booth Poetry Prize, and I was honored to be the Second Prize winner in Cutthroat’s 2019 Rick DeMarinis Short Story Contest. My stories and poems have also been recently published in The Interpreter’s House, Ambit, Kenyon Review, Mudfish, GSU Review, Georgetown Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Slipstream, Barrow Street, and Common Ground Review. My first chapbook, Dar a Luz was selected by Ilya Kaminsky as winner of pacificReview’s 2007 Brushfire Award. My second chapbook, Painting Cities, and my third, For My Father, have been published by Finishing Line Press. I grew up in Queens NY, escaped early on, earned my MBA at the Harvard Business School and am a graduate of Hunter College and Los Angeles Film School. I have also studied seriously with poets Philip Schultz, Mary Stewart Hammond, James Regan and Philip Levine. I have been a music industry CFO and Wall Street executive.