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Impediment

BARBARA BLACK

First Prize winner of the 15th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest

Like when the air hits a wound, no matter how small, and suddenly you are aware of all the red gore, guts and nerves that inhabit your body. It wasn’t his choice to have the tongue transplant. He’d made peace with his own stupidity and his crazed trigger finger. The doctors just wanted a subject to practise on. They wanted accolades. But the new tongue mangled his native language. When he wanted to say “luckily” the tongue drew itself in, humped at the back of his throat and slurred “crgiz.” When he tried with all the graciousness he could muster to say “thank you” and master that initial voiceless dental fricative, the tongue flapped to the roof of his mouth and made a sound like someone hammering a nail. He moved away from the city. Lived in a trailer in a birch grove where leggy elk strode through like giants from a pagan past. The wolf that daily defecated on his back doorstep agreed to the trade. Now the man speaks wolf—if he even speaks—and the wolf sits at the Friday night poker table, regaling men with his tales of stalking wild horses and luring them into domesticity.

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BARBARA BLACK

Barbara Black’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Prairie Fire, The New Quarterly and CV2. She’s currently working on a microfiction manuscript. She lives in Victoria, BC, and at barbarablack.ca.


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