Joseph Levens

The person who fashioned this jumpsuit you are wearing must have known you existed, and would be here ready for it, when he or she completed it. They just simply must have known.

It’s not what it happens to be, and it’s not the way the midriff appears in the afternoon as you are about to sit down. The finer details of its construction are unimportant, and no one can explain how everything comes together when you have it on. When familiar people meet you, myself included, the jumpsuit—and perhaps a handshake or kiss—is all that we need.

This is exactly what defines you, and exactly what I was looking for.

My brother and I have similar tastes and interests. We know what we like; we know what makes us laugh. We see pictures in my photo album from the last vacation. There are images of you on a cliff, lying in a cove, waiting for a bus. But the picture of you standing in the sunny woods in that explicable outfit is the only element necessary to offer my brother the definitive statement that is you. He will see you in the photo—in the jumpsuit—and no further explanation will be required. One glance is enough for him to know what you are about.

I see you get up from the couch and walk across the room, you and your black fabric that was pieced and stitched by a friend, a fan, an admirer, I’m sure. You will see that the drinking glasses are still in the sink in the kitchen; I had not put them in the dishwasher. I may have forgotten, or it may be that I don’t share your regard for what is important and what is not.

I will not answer to your name, speak for you, and wear what you wear. I am some other. Someone who has no distinctive trait or hat to place upon my head that will recapitulate the sum of my being. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve yet to find it.

There’s a recurring dream I have on random occasions. In it are you and your wonderful jumpsuit. Everywhere you go, there it is also. You will walk through a jewelry store, have lunch in a café, and play tennis in a park off the boulevard, and there and there and there the cotton shifts to your every move.

I begin to develop concern for what will come of everything when the inevitable factor of wear penetrates the jumpsuit—your jumpsuit, my jumpsuit, everyone’s delight—and signals the start of its impending ruin. What will then be used to describe you? Nothing will ever be the same, and I fear you’ll fade as well.

But now you are going to bed and your clothes are being placed somewhere for another day. Take care of these, please. Take care of their every thread. What I need is definition, the best definition of you that I can find.


Joseph Levens is the editor of The Summerset Review. His fiction has appeared in Other Voices. He has completed a collection of short stories, and teaches creative writing at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York.


© 2007 Swink, Inc.