Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Portal of the Years

Whole days try to crowd into the portal. It is a portal or it is a switchboard. A big party line, each must wait a turn. Inchoate twittering of porch chickens. Rain barrels full after the storm empties. A small place, everyone speaks and everyone listens. Though in the portal, it is not places but times that converse, while inside the switchboard, it is only the one time. Early summer, a barber in the front room shakes talcum onto the neck of a janitor. An operator named Eunice places the calls, and they race through the feet of crows. Eunice overhears everything: she could describe the new baby’s crib cap, the voices of father and son raised in anger before the shooting in the motel room. But omniscience is discreet, nods knowingly, chews gum. God imagines nothing. A man kneels to the meat on the grill and knows the unsayable thing. She has been dead weeks and the Zippo she slipped in his pocket still makes a flame.  

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