THE JUMP OFF: The Sam Lipsyte Players

By

THIS SOLITUDE’S TUNING, franklin winslow

“It’s when they stop trying to destroy you, my mother said, that you should really start to worry.”

for Emily Austin

It’s when they stop trying to destroy you, my mother said, that you should really start to worry. The deaf have ears, but it’s the grain who hears when we whisper. These are nights when the thrushlarks don’t sing.

The sound of wheat reached everywhere but our bedrooms. It isn’t nice like most people say. The plains have a high voice, which tightens under solitude’s tuning. Some nights are so long the coyote hunts don’t matter. We listen for the grain’s whining.

I wasn’t pregnant, had never been, but we still had these talks. My mother comes from a generation of women who died attempting abortions. My friends said I was lucky she didn’t want grandchildren.

A long run, hours upon hours, may not produce one neighbor, but without fail, as soon as I’m breathless, one comes out of nowhere. Nedward once caught me in a sweat and asked if I’d laid eyes on his son recently. Mother said vulgarity was common in his line.

She said this as if some talks only stick when you’re talking.

There are nights I know exactly who I am, no matter the birds or our calling, the grain or the boys at their great distance whitewashing fences.

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Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art. She is the Deputy Editor of Flavorpill and has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Unsaid, The Believer, Everyday Genius, Guernica, elimae, and Esquire.com. She blogs at The Astonishing Egg and is The Rumpus New York Editor. More from this author →