CONTESTS

Genuine Person

CLAYTON LONGSTAFF

That the house I live in is an old colonial thrown together by a Texan and a lumber baron,

not knowing the first thing about the Pacific Northwest or its weather,

that after a hundred years of mould and flooding the building manager’s son smokes

menthols all day in his white leather racing jacket, squatting in the shade of one of the

, that he ditches his crushed canned Caesars in the flower beds for the

moths to have orgies in, and that when they emerge, resplendent, beautiful, leafing the air

like a backstroke across rain-light, he steps back, blinks at a passing argosy of pollen,

licks some canned clam from the corners of his mouth,

the clearwing moth that looks identical to a hornet he calls a hornet

, the flying

insect with the long dangling legs must be a hornet, that by the same logic for not being

, which I say sounds like

, feeling more like an assault when I repeat the words

later while touching myself on top of the bedsheets, watching the moths levitate from the

mushroom compost of flowerbeds to outside my bedroom window, hum electrifying, an

amorphous plume of moths proliferates, assembling a figure unlike any one particular

thing but a thing’s premonition—does it feel then, like a moth,

or is it even referring to anything at all

besides a parenthesis? I’ve always thought of the body more as a capacity than any solid

formed thing, a hum, that at the quietest daylit hour when the sun stands like a visitor

awaiting direction—sit here, eat this, stay—pauses as it mounts a dead fly in the shape of

an apostrophe or a discarded fingernail, a closing quotation having finished what needed

saying right there on the tracks of the windowsill where I Cloroxed a week earlier, maybe

it was the Clorox that did it, or maybe the mould,

a hum that even now, as an abandoned nest of torched rolling papers flaps in lieu of

stomach lining, hangs off my bones for words to make into a song, that is, when words

arrive, if words arrive, a hum that buzzes unlike any one particular thing but a thing’s premonition,

that even in the dark, while the building manager’s son sleeps next to me, I see the ceiling

fleck and shudder as the moths dust their wings, our bodies a parenthesis, skin to hold a

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CLAYTON LONGSTAFF

Clayton Longstaff’s writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in publications including the Dalhousie Review, Canadian Literature, PRISM international and elsewhere. He lives on the unceded territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations.


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