Frank X. Gaspar: “Whistle”
Selected by Alexis Rhone Fancher, Poetry Editor
This life is turning out just the way I planned it, I’m an arrow now and I’ll never be the star of any party because I like my feathers just where they are. I think they’re sexy, but some people mistake them for my business end. It’s calming to consider that all else about me is lethal, and I like how that word makes my mouth feel and how it comes from the name of that weird river that everybody forgets and that everybody has to cross sooner or later, but they don’t think about it much. I don’t think about it either. I can be of use, a blade in a heart, you’d hear me coming, it’s a wild ride. But who will introduce me, sad arrow that I am, looking for a string and a curvy bow, and a woman who will mark me with her eye, all blazing and greedy and who has her thumb on a baby’s palm? I don’t explain. She is the one who seizes. Soon she is singing to me. She calls me Zing, with affection. There is some applause. Let’s do it, I say. Let’s do it, we’ll be so good together, but then it’s just a dream and the next thing I know I am watching birds fly south and now someone else can pay all the bills and all the taxes. I think that’s how it goes. But when you see me won’t I light you up like a country song, long and slender, just the way you like it, on the dance floor or in the aisle of an airplane? I could have been a leather jacket, but too hot for the drugstore, I could have been a child prodigy on the maestro’s violent oboe. You say there’s nothing straight about me, and that’s hardly a slander. The wind whistles, that’s how people talk about it, but they always get it wrong. And I like you, and just like you I’m flying away. Could you ever be my epic scarlet wound with ribbons and a tambourine? I wonder if you know I’m the one, if you know it’s really me in the rare atmosphere above the moon. I have what all the experts call trajectory. Forget what anyone has ever told you. I am the only one here who whistles.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frank X. Gaspar is the author of five poetry collections and three novels. His work has received many national awards and fellowships and has appeared widely in magazines and literary journals, including The New Yorker, The Nation, The Harvard Review, The American Poetry Review, and others He has held the Helio and Amelia Pedrosa/Luso-American Foundation Endowed Chair at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and more recently was named the Ferrol A. Sams Distinguished Chair, Writer in Residence at Mercer University. He currently teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Pacific University, Oregon.
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