about the author

Amy Minton’s recent publications appear in Indiana Review (forthcoming), On Earth as It Is (forthcoming), Monkeybicycle, DOGZPLOT, Hobart, Dewclaw, and Pindeldyboz. Her short story, “Overhanded,” was selected for inclusion in Best of the Web 2008 (Dzanc Books), edited by Steve Almond. She is a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She lives and works in San Antonio.

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Expectantly, The Old Man Leans Forward

Amy Minton

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on a rust-bitten vinyl pillow and asks
the child if she hears the Whippoorwill.
He cups his hands and whistles into
a cavern of wrinkles and calluses to produce
three notes,
then raises his eyes to the child,

The child pulls apart and mashes together
all of the sounds she hears.
The effort requires her to squint.

- Do you hear it?
- No.

—separate the sounds of cars passing from Sunday service, of leaves applauding a late Spring breeze’s entrance, of voices from the open kitchen window listing a pie’s contents, the order in which the ingredients are prepared, the revised time of the start of Sunday dinner based on the delay of yeast puffing rolls atop a warmed television set that crackles with voices marking yards gained by a pig skinned ball and with jingles attracting buyers to shiny products—which the pie maker catches amidst her own chatter and halts to spell the product’s name onto a list so she may capture it at the market on Tuesday—and in that moment in which the pie maker dreams of her life with the shiny product in hand, there is a rest—a silence.

Again, the old man raises his eyes to the child,

- Do you hear it?
- No.
- Listen again. Right now.

—from the magnolia beyond the clothesline, a song like a yo-yo whizzing, one she’s heard in the dark hours of the morning before the adults stir, an echo inside the chimney that she drowns with the television’s exploding cartoon symphonies of clashing cymbals and chattering strings—and in that moment when the child listens, there is a rest—a silence in which she connects that echo inside the chimney, inside the old man’s hands, inside the pie maker’s silence, inside the magnolia.

      - Do you hear it?
      - No. I hear...this.

The child squints her eyes,
cups her hands
considers her composition, and
draws breath.

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