kiki petrosino





Halfway through my plate of tiger prawns

Robert Redford returns from the cockpit tour.

Such a face he says. Were you this soulful as a child?

He tips my chin & slides my headset back.

I’ve been listening to the pilots marking weather

in their code talk. Right now we’re at two-five-five

knots, heading straight into the soup above

Las Vegas. Our pilot has a clean, grey voice—

like creosote or silverware. He’s just said advise.

He’s just said preparing. Redford eases

into his seat, folding one knee

over the other. He rolls his double brandy

in a plastic snifter. The cuffs of his soft green shirt

are pushed into his elbows. I had some soulful ways, I guess.

I tuck into a small ramekin of green gage plums

soaked in cream & rice vinegar. At the edge

of my vision, Redford lifts his spoon, considering

the loose pyramid of Asian jungle fowl

on his tray. I pick up a tiny package

of salt. Know what I used to do with this?

I reach across Redford’s lap, taking a lengthy swallow

of brandy from his glass. At night, I’d eat this.

It was a thing. I’d pour a whole bunch

in my mouth, & then I’d chew until my tongue opened.

For the first time, I notice how it’s very quiet

here in First Class. I drain the brandy, listening to the hum hum

of the cabin lights against my gulps. Below us, Las Vegas

is an orange watchglass someone shattered. I think

about the neon people down there, the funny cowboy with tubes

of brown light for a ten-gallon hat, & I think how hard it must be

to make brown neon, & how we still need science.

After a moment, I feel Redford take the snifter

from my hand. He lowers it into the circular depression

in his tray. The plastic hazes where my palm

has touched. Redford reaches over, snapping

my tray into the seatback. Then he finds the place

where my safety belt catches. He gently pulls until

the belt tightens, low & quiet on my hips. He keeps his palm

on the buckle & I settle back. What made me, made me.

Above our heads, the reading lights go out.