Saturday 24 June 2023

'The Scream' by Joshua Jones Lofflin

It starts with a low hum, a vibration in the back of the throat, a child parting her lips, a mother wincing in the dark from a migraine, an old man gasping for breath from the depths of his deathbed, the noise swelling within him, within her, within thousands of bellowing marchers howling under the flat slap of truncheons and spray of firehoses, their voices shrill as a million chainsaws, a cleaving icesheet, a rifle’s hollowed report as soldiers drop their weapons and tilt their heads back into smoke-filled air, hinge their jaws open wide, wider, as wide as the wailing mouths of infants pulled from screaming mothers who crush hands of screaming partners who lock eyes with screaming midwives and doctors as they resuscitate patients from failing ventilators, delivering thirty chest compressions and a screaming breath then thirty more as the patients utter silent screams of yes yes yes like the soprano on her hotel terrace, her cries echoing down jagged alleys as she presses her hips into her screaming lover’s mouth who bends forward as if in prayer and listens—and listens—as the entire city screams, the citizens stepping to their windows, flinging them open, finding one another’s hands, emptying their lungs their hearts their spines, until cracks spider across mirrored glass, until steel skyscrapers flex and sway, until oceans ripple beneath the beating air and a hundred millions wings blot out the sun——until the earth shifts on its axis, slipping just far enough in its orbit to bring back the rains, restore the melted ice caps, to make the last wild rhinos furiously copulate after trampling the last screaming poachers, to make the smallest child run naked into a gentle hush of waves, to leave her doubled over with laughter and amazement.

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