RACHEL LEVY

THE GIRAFFE

 

I stand on the bus.
             I stand in the aisle with the other youths.
             I’ve no need for a seat.
             I’m young.
             I’m so young.
             My hat is gorgeous. My hat is unimpeachable—
             everyone’s thinking it.
                          Unimpeachable!
             It’s natural to imagine the worst.
             It’s very natural.
                          No I will not have sex with you due to the incredible length of your neck.
             Now that’s a sick mind—
             and yet it’s natural. It’s natural.
                           I will not have sex with you due to the ungodly length of your neck.
             It’s so natural to imagine.
                          The texture of which, by the way, resembles that of the domestic turkey’s              wattle.
             That’s natural.
                          And is making me nauseas.
             No—
             I believe it’s sad.
             It’s so sad.
             People are ignorant of the wattle’s function.
             The wattle is an ornament for courting.
             The grosser the wattle: the better the wattle.
             An overt wattle is the mark of a pristine sexual partner.
             Yes, that’s a fact.
             The people are incapable of averting their eyes.
             It’s as simple as averting the eyes, or tying on a blindfold.
             The people are sick to their stomachs.
             Then we shall court before breakfast.
             It’s as simple as courting before breakfast.
             Twilight is my best light.
             Twilight.
             I know.
             I get it.
             I’ll say it.
             “I’m ugly!”
             I hereby change to my name to Neck-Shaped Stack Of Rickety DNA!
             I would blame my parents—
             but my parents had normal-sized necks!
             And winter is coming—
             and I hate winter!
             How many scarves does my long neck require? Guess!
             There are too many people on the bus! There are too many people! And come  winter, all the people will decorate themselves in the cutest, most delicate of scarves!
             Why? For the sake of fashion!
             Must the people jostle me so? Is this how the people get their kicks? By watching my head wobble on my neck like a lollipop on a rubber stick?
             The people are perverts!
             I will no longer be jostled for their pleasure.
             Give me your seat on the bus so that I might no longer be jostled for the pleasure of the people.
             I will surrender my eyebrows. I will trade my eyebrows for a seat on the bus.
             My neck is terrifying, but I take pride in my eyebrows.My eyebrows look like
puppies. My eyebrows look just like puppies napping on my face!
             Imagine that: one long neck and zero eyebrows!
             Imagine that—
             but what’s the point?
             What’s the point?
             Standing, sitting.
             Nonsense.
             What matters a seat on the bus when my stop is approaching?
             Soon I will take to the street, and my face will float above the city like a frowning
helium balloon on a flesh-made string.
             And now I’ve surrendered my eyebrows.
             There were days I would bend at the waist and lower my face to the level of the people, and an attractive person would compliment my eyebrows.
                          This person wants to have sex with you, I would say to myself.
             The person did not want to have sex with me.
             The person did not want to have sex with me—
             but I didn’t care!
             At the end of the day, I hardly cared that the person did not want to have sex with me.
             I hardly cared.
             Those days are over.
             Winter is coming, and I have a long neck that is impossible to keep warm.
             My heart breaks for the hundreds of sheep that will be shorn to make my scarves.
             I empathize with the sheep because I too am shorn. I am shorn of my eyebrows.
             So what. Who cares.
             Soon I will die and leave behind no sexual partners who might mourn the loss of me and also commission the construction of a special coffin to accommodate the length of my neck.
             I am like a giraffe, a giraffe without a coffin.
             That sounds like a joke.
             What do you call a giraffe without a coffin?
             I shall learn to tell jokes and to laugh at the jokes.
             What do you get if you cross a giraffe and a hedgehog?
             An extra-long toilet brush.
             Here’s a riddle. Long neck, no hands. One hundred legs, but cannot stand. Born of wood and nest, against the wall I rest. What am I?
             I am certain of three things.
             One. Winter is coming.
             Two. I cannot stall winter.
             Three. My long neck will grow cold, chap, and most likely be turned into a pillar
of ice.
             But I shall prepare myself as best I can.
             I shall button my overcoat.
             The adjustment might spare the senseless shearing of a sheep, or two.
             The trick to keeping warm is movement, constant movement.
             The answer to the riddle is a mop, a bloodless thing.


RACHEL LEVY holds an MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work has been published in Gigantic, Fence, and The Collagist, among other places. She is a PhD student at the University of Utah, and along with Lily Duffy she edits DREGINALD.

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