By Susan Elliott Brown
A black, rectangular shield covers the keyboard and my hands
like a censor hides nipples on TV. I type sample sentences,
hundreds more words to go before the bell. When will
the auditor perform the city audit? The fox and the bear
jumped over the logs. The mayor mailed a letter to his aunt
in Pennsylvania. The TV kicks on at a quarter till and a girl
named Tangela sits in front of a makeshift studio, red
high-school letters emblazoned behind her head. She reads
in a monotone, President Bush and war on terror and a sea
of keyboard clicks swallows it up. The clumsy cow stepped
into the chicken coop. Iraq. Baghdad. Saddam. The state
auditor will return on Tuesday. I look to the keyboard
for a sense of place and the black box stops me. Eyes on
the screen. We think they have weapons of mass destruction.
People still wear “I Heart NY” shirts to school. I think
Tangela said we are at war. War with terror. The crafty
attorneys requested a long recess. The black box hides
the delete key. The quick sprinter—no—the quiet sprinkler.
Delete. When will the judge be back in the building?
Planned, authorized, committed, or aided. In order to
prevent any future acts. All necessary and appropriate force.
Susan Elliott Brown is the author of the chapbook The Singing Is My Favorite Part. Her poetry appears in The Best American Poetry blog, Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, and Reunion: The Dallas Review, among others. She received her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi, and she lives in Birmingham, Ala. and works in advertising.
Photo credit: Typists in training at the War Production Board, 1942, U.S. Library of Congress