local_library Bergman’s

by Daniel Weinshenker

Published in Issue No. 13 ~ June, 1998

I was at an old strip mall, in
the coffeeshop of a department
store, sitting at the counter, talking
with a man, when the lights
went out.

He said his name was Joseph, and
that this was nothing
new. I could hear him
shift on the naugehyde cushion, hear him
slide his forearm across the counter
to the sugar caddy. I think
the generator should come on, that
this (situation) should right itself,
but it doesn’t.

People start feeling
their way around the booths and aisles
searching for markers, to make
acquaintances in this

He said, finding my shoulder,
“This happened once
before, in New York, in the 60’s. Lasted
a long time. 9 months
later there was a record
number of babies being born.”
I nodded, thinking about what it
must have been like. All stumbling
in a black city.

They must have felt thrown
back into the dark
ages when nobody talked. Endless
and open corridors, formless,
slick ponds, split open wounds.

I heard people crawling about on the floor,
shuffling on all fours, imagined hands
out in front, antennae
flexing out and long,
feeling for form.
They slid out and away into
the outside.

He said, finding my shoulder,
“I’m going to take this
sugar. Shhhhhhhh.” and I
heard the little packets shift against
each other, Florida against Georgia
against New Mexico. The tiny photographs
crumpling, crude granules sifting from one
end of the envelopes to the other, gathering
in the paper corners.

The hiss of small rain
from his shirt pocket, an
overturned hourglass mumbling
low, cupped in flannel and stitches. He stole
away on the linoleum with
the others, like some great family
of ants, chests close to the ground,
carrying away the contents of this place.
First the sugar, then the silver, then the dark.

account_box More About

Daniel Weinshenker is a graduate student in creative writing at CU Boulder. Amidst teaching and toiling away at something or other, he manages to tear apart human interaction, communicate somewhat frequently and, for the most part, dress himself.