Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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Explaining Shockley

The book my father wrote, an obsolete treatise. The dedication’s heavy in my hand, nearly the only words among schematics and equations: To my long-suffering wife and oft-neglected children. Without Shockley, what might have happened? Left to shortwave transmissions, the ice of Buffalo winters. I should’ve known the name that I forgot, doomed to hear the story again. He never met the man, but once, tone rising to indicate how close he came to greatness, walking through the archways he saw a woman keeping to herself, and his colleague, they must have been on campus for a meeting, gestured toward her, Shockley’s widow. Nearly a ghost, haunting the grounds after her husband had died. His invention: our future. Transistors my father fabricates, elaborate microscopic cities. Shockley passed in enmity, alone except for Emmy. Students burned his car when he lectured on race: sterilize the lower classes. He wasn’t a family man. The papers told his children when their father died.  end

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