Four Knoxvillians
C. Robert Miller


An obvious museum director, a transplant well planted, leans his weight and hip on a rail and slides a way down to a stupid quiet boy. Here's my find, my jewel. A rough patch on the boy's cheek hides on the opposite side of this.


The downstairs guide, an Italian, hands off the Civil War house tour to the upstairs guide, a Confederate. She isn't a lady. Bastards buried the dead, horses too, and ruined Lee's estate. She spirals up a staircase, fingering bullet holes in the walls. Out windows, she sights enemy ghosts advancing trench by trench.


A third-generation hag crafts puppets from paper plates, fuzzy balls, and bolts of inviting fabrics. She delights the Secret City's kids. One picks a pocket from the many sewn into her skirt and outs a fox. It sparks the hag's yarn. I know a decoy when I smell it.


Only what's needed hangs on the green tea wall. Lights to see well enough. Speakers to pipe house music. Chatter at the table runs through regional cakes—Hummingbird and Upside-Down—three-year-old Lyle, a suicide, and two relocations. I direct an actress in the sushi bar and in the seat I met my wife. I'm background. Right behind her head.

C. Robert Miller's fiction has been published in Columbia, where it was selected by Aimee Bender.

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Detail of painting on main page courtesy of Brendan Garbee. ("5 a.m window," acrylics on paper)

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