This flat piece of unfinished mahogany holds stories. There’s a hole drilled on one end, where scratches cross the grain, which makes me think it once hung from a nail on a wall. Written in red ink on one face, the words Hue, Vietnam, 10-1-2001, and on the other side, Lac Thien, the name of the restaurant where my daughter Lyndsay and I sat and watched the owner open our soda and beer with flair. He placed the bolt- end of the wood tool over the bottle-cap, so the bolt’s head hooked under the cap’s edge and the length of the wood sloped downward. Then he gripped the bottle with his left hand and swung his right arm in a grand circle striking the free end of the mahogany with his up-swinging hand, send- ing the spinning tool high above his head as the bottle-cap chattered across the floor. He caught the bottle-opener with a swipe on its way down. I was so thrilled I clapped and asked if I could see the opener and how it worked (using sign language, since he was deaf.) After he showed me, he took out his red pen and wrote on the wood with a deft hand that was missing the end of its third finger. His young daughter, who was waiting on us, stood by the table watching, and in the pause after his gift, I took the thin gold hoop from my left ear and gave it to her. Her face, then the whole room, opened and fizzed.
-- George Such is an English Ph.D. student at University of Louisiana in Lafayette, where he has been awarded a University Fellowship. In a previous incarnation he was a chiropractor for twenty-seven years in the state of Washington. His poetry has appeared in Arroyo Literary Review, Blue Earth Review, Cold Mountain Review, Dislocate, and many other literary journals; his non ction has appeared in Phoebe. His collection of poems, Where the Body Lives, was selected as winner of the 2012 Tiger’s Eye Chapbook Contest and is forthcoming.