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Hello to everyone.
The first joke goes: suppose I told you how
often I draw bangs on women that I haven’t
met and who don’t wear bangs? That I sketch
between us, or erase, depending, finger-length
strands of hair that rest below the eyebrows
and above the eyelashes? My index finger
gives me away, because I can’t help but
scratch at the air, so that, on some atomic
level, I’m moving the universe around their
faces into bangs. Because I like to. My point:
the punch line remains the same, no matter
the question or the joke or the soundtrack.
The truth is: I want everyone to have bangs,
not only women. I want children and
squirrels, deep fish without light in their lives,
Space Aliens, toothbrushes, mongrels, cats,
presidents of sovereign nations, their
presidential pets, to all have bangs. And
telekinesis. I want everyone to be so identical
to everyone else that the term everyone
becomes redundant, like spitting into a lake
to see if you understand the concept of
volume, how it operates, how movement
determines opacity. A week ago, I woke up in
Minneapolis with a bucket of spring waiting
outside. Here’s the punch line: because gray
doesn’t paint itself. Here’s the joke: why did
Minneapolis wake up with a bucket of spring
waiting for me outside? Everything is a setup
everyone falls for at least once. Everything
consists of two parts: the way up and the way
back down. The morning I first woke up in
Minneapolis, I rolled over and wished that it
never happened, Minneapolis, I mean, maybe
the whole waking up experience, which never
meets the standards I place on prepositions.
Just once, I want to say Minneapolis in such
a specific way that it sounds like the start of
an aria. I want to know how to speak in aria,
how to sign in aria, how to fall apart, pick
myself back up and cry in aria. I want to know
aria for “I want,” and never say it to anyone
else but myself. Let’s pretend for a while
longer that space exists entirely on one
premise: that wishes happened once, eons
ago, and someone forgot to make one, which
was the only one which came true. I want to
say Minneapolis and mean angels exist. I want
to say Minneapolis and turn heads, break
fingers, shatter the previous record for
number of times people wept for no reason at
once. I want to say Minneapolis and not
regret a single sound I made in doing so. I
want to say Minneapolis and not regret
anything. Please understand that when I say, I
want, I mean, I give up. I mean, it never
should have happened this way or any other way, so I
might as well wish against the whole thing.
Say everyone, and mean Minneapolis kills
with a thousand different tongues,
all replete with aria. Say everyone, and mean you
once woke up and meant it. Say everyone,
and then stop speaking for the rest of the day,
of the year, of your life, and see if that feels
anywhere close to what it may feel like to
choke on space. To live in space. I want you
to know that, if I aria, I would only aria to
you, which by you, I mean you, Minneapolis.
Patrick Whitfill has work appearing in Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review Online, and Colorado Review, among others. Currently, he lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and teaches at Wofford College.
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