THE HAZEL-ATLAS GLASS FACTORY
For years his father had made fruit jars, ink bottles, jam and pickle jars, Vaseline jars,
blue glass pitchers with the opaque profile of Shirley Temple smiling, forever, bright as tourmaline.
He would come home, sometimes, his boots trailing river mud, his hat bearing the weight of a heaven
so low it felt like the overhanging trees. At the kitchen table: haphazard bills (coal, dry goods, hospital visits)
in a pile of badly shuffled cards; maybe a bottle of rye, the liquid distorted in the glass like heat off concrete.
If hunting season, maybe a gun. If springtime, a bowl of seeds. Sometimes the factory
would shut down, the money stop, the hours at the kitchen table expanding until he couldn’t remember
if his father had left the house at all that day. The crickets played angry orchestras. The sky
a vast alloy forged by invisible engineers who dropped it into place. You can get used to eating
breakfast with ghosts, bullets and broken pencils rolling across the table like the pieces in a game.
Maybe the rules are on the back of that calendar on the wall, from the Martin’s Ferry Credit Union,
showing August when it’s been October for twenty-one days. He opens the door with his foot, swinging
it slowly out over the front porch his grandfather built, listening as it clicks around to the north like a clock.
Who is he, the teenage boy with his school books like Bibles, his journals (he hides them, wound in tape
and plastic, in the cavity where the spare tire used to be) transcribed in spit and dirt, ink and apology.
At the gas station in town, in the dime store on Main Street, the pieces his father makes, has made
(they’ll call it Depression glass) sell for almost nothing, a recalibration of sand and livelihood, worthless
trinkets in turquoise blue and salmon pink. The dogs are pacing the outer perimeter.
Porchlight like shards of glass on the driveway. Even by moonlight, there is nothing to read.
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