Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1

Explaining Shockley

The book my father wrote, an obsolete treatise. The dedication’s heavy in my hand, nearly the only words among schematics and equations: To my long-suffering wife and oft-neglected children. Without Shockley, what might have happened? Left to shortwave transmissions, the ice of Buffalo winters. I should’ve known the name that I forgot, doomed to hear the story again. He never met the man, but once, tone rising to indicate how close he came to greatness, walking through the archways he saw a woman keeping to herself, and his colleague, they must have been on campus for a meeting, gestured toward her, Shockley’s widow. Nearly a ghost, haunting the grounds after her husband had died. His invention: our future. Transistors my father fabricates, elaborate microscopic cities. Shockley passed in enmity, alone except for Emmy. Students burned his car when he lectured on race: sterilize the lower classes. He wasn’t a family man. The papers told his children when their father died.  end