Poetry & Fiction

Brooklyn Fiction: Contours by T.B. Grennan

by T.B. Grennan

From a distance, it’s like a bouquet of icicles rising from a square chrome base. Gnarled. Compact. Shining with a white fluorescent glow.

Up close, the shapes feel different. Stronger, more dynamic. The jets of a fountain captured just before they fall. A stag’s horns sculpted in glass.

There’s a mood here, a feeling. Summoning up an ice storm, an arctic forest, some buried memory of disaster. A portrait of coarse, vivid suffering never experienced by the soft hands that shaped it.

Technically, these are the same, tired tricks from before. Starting with steel or copper wire or stone. Shaping the coating with blowtorch and tongs, until it’s the only thing visible. But this time there’s a new spark, a menace.

And suddenly there’s something else, something more. An outcropping. A whole forgotten wing stretching out behind. Flat as a lake at the margins, at

the very edge. Shapes slowly burbling up like water moving past a sunken branch, like reeds frozen at the cusp of shore. Rising toward those twisting peaks, the contours sleek and dangerous as a broken bottle.

A stark ice fantasia. A Siberian fairyland. Something distant and foreign, inspired not by an experience or a feeling but by a story told in a bar. Another’s pain rendered with art supplies.

Around the back, the texture changing. Its surface smudged, its shine diminishing. Marked by fingerprints and flecks of dirt. Chips beginning to appear in the finish.

Then the last corner, the last unseen angle. The place where credit is given, where the maker’s initials are elegantly scratched.

And there they are. Hovering. Floating. Two of the saddest eyes you’ve ever seen, reflected in the dirty glass.


T.B. Grennan’s short fiction has been published in Construction Literary Magazine, Digital Americana, White Stag Journal, and The Seventh Wave, and “Spaces We Have Known,” an anthology of LGBTQ+ fiction; his short film “Picking Up” premiered at the 2015 Boston LGBT Film Festival. He has received scholarships from The Seventh Wave’s Rhinebeck Residency and the Vermont Studio Center. Grennan was born in Burlington, Vermont, and lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

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